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Thomas Rolfe (abt. 1615 - bef. 1681)

Lieutenant Thomas Rolfe
Born about in Smith's Plantation, Jamestown, James City County, Colony of Virginiamap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
Brother of [half] and [half]
Husband of — married 1644 in Jamestown, James City, Virginiamap
Descendants descendants
Died before at about age 66 in James City County, Colony of Virginiamap
Profile last modified | Created 30 Nov 2008
This page has been accessed 45,888 times.
NOTE: Rolfe is a very popular family at WikiTree. However, there is only one Thomas Rolfe. He only had one daughter: Jane Rolfe.
US Southern Colonies.
Thomas Rolfe resided in the Southern Colonies in North America before 1776.
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Matoaka Amonute Powhatan
Thomas Rolfe is a descendant of Pocahontas. Here is the trail.

Thomas Rolfe[1] was born 30 January 1615 at either Smith's Plantation, Virginia or Varina, Henrico, Virginia.[citation needed] He was the only child of John and Rebecca (Pocahontas) Rolfe.[2]

A possible unproven legend states that Mattaponi oral history is adamant that Thomas was born out of wedlock, prior to the marriage ceremony between Pocahontas and Rolfe.[3]

When his mother died in England in 1617, he was left there to be raised by his father's family. He then returned to Virginia to claim his parents' property upon his majority.

Thomas became a lieutenant in the English Army.[citation needed] He came to America when he was about 25 years old (c. 1635).[4]

Residence: 1652 Thomas Rolfe House, Surry Co., VA: story-and-a-half homes with chimneys at both ends and a more nearly symmetrical facade, as in the Thomas Rolfe House (1652), in Surry County, Virginia.[5]

He married Jane Poythress about 1640 in Richmond, Henrico, Virginia or in 1644 Jamestown, James City, Virginia.[citation needed] See "Research Notes" below, however, for discussion of this claim.

They only had one child :

  1. Jane Rolfe who married BOLLING.

He died after 1658 in James City, County, Virginia.[citation needed] Others say he died in 1675 James River, Buckingham, Virginia.[6] A property event dating 23 Apr 1681, lands of Thomas Rolfe, deceased, known as "the Fort Land" were divided and sold - so he was clearly gone before 23 Apr 1681. His only grandson, John Bolling, signed over some of his land in 1698 to a William Brown." [7].

Research Notes

Disputed Information about Thomas' wife

Some claim he married Elizabeth Washington in England.[citation needed]

Moore and Slatten[8] traced the suggestion that his wife was a Poythress back to a comment by W. G. Stanard in "Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents", in Virginia Historical Magazine (I, 1894, 446-447):

"His wife is said to have been a Miss Poythress (if so, doubtless a daughter of Francis Poythress."

According to Moore and Slatten, Stanard cited as evidence handwritten notes on the flyleaf of a copy of A Complete Collection of All the Laws of Virginia Now in Force Carefully Copied from the Assembled Records (London, 168[?], now in the Library of Virginia. Moore and Slatten state:

"Interestingly, Thomas Rolfe here is recorded as married to a 'Miss Payers'. We recall that in John Rolfe's will the name of his third wife is spelt Pyers (Peirce) and that it was John who married a "Jane".

Here again a Bolling descendant confused the son with his father. Not recognizing the name 'Payers' as another variant of Peirce, someone searched the records for a name beginning with 'P' and having a 'y' in the first syllable. Francis Poythress lived in adjacent Charles City County and his name ended in s!

Wyndham Robertson, a Bolling descendant, wrote in Pocahontas Alias Mataoke and Her Descendants (Richmond, 1887):

"I adopt "Jane Poythress" (not "Poyers") whom he is stated in the Bolling Memoirs to have married in England."

He added in justification of his charming adoption of an ancestress, ' such name as "Poyers" is anywhere known ... the family of Poythress was already settled in Virginia.' ... The result has been the acceptance of a non-existent personage, 'Jane Poythress', in the Bibles of Virginia genealogy, as the bona fide ancestress of many illustrious Virginians. Who the wife (or wives) of Thomas Rolfe may have been remains an unanswered question.

Pocahontas' Descendants by Stuart Brown et al (1995), which is the most updated version of POCAHONTAS' DESCENDANTS: A Revision, Enlargement and Extension of the List as Set out by Wyndham Robertson in His Book Pocahontas and Her Descendants (1887) that he was only married once "to possibly the daughter of Francis Poytress, a Virginia colonist" . If there was a first marriage in England before he moved to Virginia to claim his inheritance & land, the first wife was listed as "unknown".

Disputed Children

Thomas's alleged marriage to Elizabeth Washington in 1632 is claimed to have produced a child, Anne Rolfe.

"The Elwyn family of Thurning, Norfolk, England, claims that Anne Rolfe, “cousin and adopted” daughter of Anthony Rolfe of Tuttington, Norfolk, and wife of Peter Elwyn of Thurning (1623-1695/6) was also a daughter of Thomas Rolfe, Pocahontas’s son, by an early English wife. Brown, Myers, and Chappel accept this claim; Moore and Slatton do not, and I [who?] am skeptical also. Margaret Wake, a great-granddaughter of Peter and Anne, married William Tryon (1729-1788), colonial Governor of North Carolina and New York.

English sources for the Elwyn progeny include R. T. and A. Gunther, Rolfe Family Records, Vol. 2 (1914): 289-91, and Patrick Palgrave-Moore and Michael J. Sayer, "A Selection of Revised and Unpublished Norfolk Pedigrees," in Norfolk Genealogy, Vol. 6, 1974, published by the Norfolk and Norwich Genealogical Society), 56-59 (Elwyn); and The Ancestor, 2 (1902): 183-84 and 4 (1904): 256-57 (Wake, Tryon)."[9]

Wyndham Robertson in his preface (1887, p. iv) appears to accept the Elwyn claim, while perhaps not understanding the implications.

An independent and separate claim says that Thomas Rolfe had another undocumented daughter, also called Anne Rolfe, in Virginia in the 1640s. She married a William Barnett (from whose descendants this claim unsurprisingly originates).

The "Uncertain Existence" profile for Anthony Rolfe (1655-bef.1755) says his parents are Thomas and Jane (citing an online tree without a reliable source).


  1. Rolfe, Thomas- A9737: born 1615 Jamestown Resident, liv. 1670 accessed 22 October 2021
  2. Smithsonian Institution. Do All Indians Live in Tipis? Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C. 2018. p75-77.
  3. National Museum of the American Indian: Pocahontas, First Marriage, Huff Post article, date? author?
  4. Sponsor: William Pierce, Nugent: Virginia Land Patents; (spreadsheet: database online). Accessed 10 November 2018, amb
  5. Microsoft Encarta 98, "American Art and Architecture".
  6. Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. Volume? Publishing date? page 12 Better link sought.
  7. Bibliography: The Association for the Preservation of Virginia, copyright 1997,2000 at website antiquities. database online
  8. Elizabeth Vann Moore and Richard Slatten, "The Descendants of Pocahontas: An Unclosed Case," in Magazine of Virginia Genealogy, XXIII, no.3, pp.3-16, cited by John Frederick Dorman, in Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th ed., Vol. 3, p.26, fn23-24.
  9. copied from Gary Boyd Roberts, Notable Kin: Some Descendants and Kinsmen of Descendants of Pocahontas: An Excursion into Southern Genealogy, April 1986 at
  • [citation needed] for birthdate and birthplace of Thomas Rolfe. Or for the first invention of these details. They don't appear in the more careful secondary sources. Encyclopedia Virginia found nothing. Stanard (1913) ventures the guess that Rolfe was born in Virginia in 1615, but other writers have thought he might have been born after Pocahontas sailed to England, and there seems to be nothing to rule this out.
  • Letter of John Rolfe to Edwin Sandys, in Ferrar, M.E, "The Ferrar Papers", in V.M.H.B, Vol. 10 no. 2 (Oct 1902), p. 134. Explains why Thomas was left with Stukeley.
  • "Will of John Rolfe", ed. Carson, in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 58, No. 1 (Jan 1950), p. 61. From the probate copy (PCC 1630). The will had previously been abstracted by Waters, from the register copy (49 Scroope), in N.E.H.G.R, Vol. 38 no. 1 (Jan 1884), p. 68, with notes by Waters. (Note date is 1884, not 1844 as given by Carson)
  • Petition of Henry Rolfe to the Virginia Company, as recorded in the Court Book, in Kingsbury, S.M, Records of the Virginia Company of London, Vol. 2 (1906), p. 105 (7th Oct 1622). States that Thomas was then in England, and identifies Thomas's mother as Powhatan's daughter.
  • Kingsbury, Susan M. Virginia Company Records, Vol. 2 (1906), p. 52. The Company write to Argall on 22 Aug 1618 in response to "a very straunge letter" from Argall, then Governor, in which he had apparently said that Opechankano and the Natives had given their country to Mr Rolfe's child and were reserving it for him. The Company suspected Argall was scheming to his own ends.
  • Nugent, Nell Marion, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts, Vol. 1, p. 28. William Pierse redeems a headright for transportation of Thomas Rolfe, 1635.
  • Randolph, Richard (as "R.R") (a descendant). "Henrico County", in Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. 25, no. 1 (Jul 1857), p, 68, says Rolfe arrived in Virginia in 1641, and visited his Indian relatives then. And many other things for which no source is indicated. Of course many records existed in Virginia in 1857 that didn't exist 10 years later.
  • Robertson, Wyndham (a descendant) (1887), Pocahontas and her Descendants, p. 30, calling this "one of the only two incidents of his life of which we have any record", mentions the granting "by the Governor, on his petition, of permission to visit his Indian kinsfolk". He doesn't give the date or the source. He writes as if a record of this permit has been found and published and will be known to his readers.
  • In V.M.H.B, Vol. 1, no. 4 (Apr 1894), p. 446, Stanard cites "Virginia Records, in Congressional library" for a statement corresponding to that made by Robertson.
  • [citation needed] for "Virginia Records, in Congressional library" as cited. (Thomas Jefferson's collection is online as scanned images, but untranscribed and unindexed.)
  • But then there's this from the Princess Nicketti camp: [1]. All over the net, but clearly bogus.
  • Hening's Statutes, Vol. 1 (1809), p. 327. Grant of Fort James at Chickahominy to "Left. Thomas Rolfe", in 1646, by Act of Assembly.
  • Nugent, Nell Marion, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts, Vol. 1, pp. 234, 328, 384. Patents taken out by Thomas Rolfe, total 875 acres, all adjacent at Chickahominy, including the Fort (400 acres) as granted in 1646, the rest for 10 headrights.
  • [citation needed] A patent dated 1663 (implied by Stanard ?in "Virginia Land Patents"). Could be in Vol. 2 of Cavaliers and Pioneers?
  • [citation needed] Conveyance of land to William Corker, 1673 ("the gift of the Indian King")
  • [citation needed] Conveyance of Chickahominy to William Brown, abt ?1681
  • Randolph, Richard (as "R.R"): "Henrico County", in Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. 25 issue 1 (Jul 1857), p. 68. Richard Randolph's claim (as cited by Stanard) that Thomas Rolfe's wife was a Miss Poythress.
  • "Historical and Genealogical Notes", in William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 5 no. 4 (Apr 1897), p. 275. The Bolling flyleaf. Names the immigrant Robert Bolling's father-in-law as Thomas Rolfe, gent. Doesn't explicitly make him the son of Pocahontas, though the "gent" is probably unique enough.
  • Stith, William: History of Virginia (1747), p. 146. Probably the first explanation in print that the red Bollings had the Pocahontas bloodline. It's not clear how well known this would have been.
  • Randolph, Richard (as "R.R."): "Historical Memoranda", in Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. 25, issue 2 (Aug 1857), p. 123. Deed for the sale of the Fort at Chickahominy by grandson John Bolling. This deed identifies Robert Bolling's father-in-law as the same Thomas Rolfe who was earlier granted Fort James on the Chickahominy. The deed no longer exists and its genuineness has been questioned.

See Also:

  • Stanard, W.G: "Virginia Land Patents", in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 1 #4 (Apr 1894), p. 446.
  • "Ancestors and Descendants of John Rolfe", in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr 1913), p. 209.
  • McCartney, Martha W (2007). Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, p. 608.
  • David Morenus. Pocahontas Descendants. Accessed by Michael Boynton on December 22, 2015 at 3:30 PM. online
  • Virginia County Records Surname Index. The Generations Network, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 1999
  • Gale Research, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s Publication: Name: Operations, Inc; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2010;
  • Godfrey Memorial Library, comp., American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI) Publication: Name: Operations Inc; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 1999
  • Virginia, Find A Grave Index, 1607-2012 Publication: Name: Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2012
  • Robert Gale LaMaster, LaMaster/LeMaster Home Page, (1998, online), "Electronic."
  • England, Select Marriages, 1538–1973
  • London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812; Reference Number: DRO/040/A/01/002.
London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812. Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.Original data - Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives. Images produced by permission of the City of London Corporation Libraries
  • Thomas Rolfe and Pocahontas: image
  • Thomas Rolfe Home: image

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Comments: 21

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Not Sure how accurate but states father of Jane Poythress is LT William Poyers

Millennium File Thomas Rolfe in theMillennium File Record details Name Thomas Rolfe Gender Male Birth Date 1615 Birth Place Richmond, Ind City, Virginia, USA Father John Rolfe Spouse Jane Poythress Children Jane Rolfe Spouse Father William (Lt ) Poyers

posted by Sherry Holston
Sherry, a millennium file is no better source than an unsourced family tree. In fact, it's the same thing. Zero reliability. Thanks, though.
Spot the family resemblance


posted by [Living Horace]
remarkable likeness - could be twins even :D

should we just detach the duplicate posted here as a portrait of Thomas or "save" it somewhere (once a picture isn't connected to a profile or space page, it's deleted).

update: I changed the title for the image (from Thomas Rolfe to Wyndham Robertson) & the only profile it's attached to now is his (Robertson-6654's). Even though the same image had been attached to Robertson's profile in 2015, I didn't want to lose the discussion of the picture that is with the image uploaded as Rolfe-744.jpg.

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
edited by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
The information provided to me by my cousin, Patricia Gresham, says Thomas's middle name was Powhatten, and that he died in Richmond, Wise County, Virginia in 1675.
posted by Harry Carlson