The True Story Of Pocahontas: Historical Myths Versus Sad Reality

John Rolfe was a respected planter who played an important role in the survival of American colony – first Eglish Permanent Colony. But the efforts of Rolfe was overshadowed by the legacy of Pocahontas – wife of John Rolfe. But there is more to explore in the story of Pocahontas and Rolfe.

John Rolfe and Pocahontas painted together in the 19th century.

There is not much information available about the childhood life of John Rolfe. But according to an estimate of the historians, he was born in Norfolk, England in 1585. But what happened to him from his birth to 1609 is unknown to everyone. In 1609, Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas were spotted in a Sea Venture when they were carrying a ship of 500 settlers to the New World.

The ship was planned to reach Virginia but unfortunately, a hurricane hit the ship and Rolfe along with other survivors was forced to spend 10 months at Bermuda. The newborn and Rolfe’s wife died on the island but he himself reached the Chesapeake Bay safely in 1610.

Wedding ceremony of John Rolfe and Pocahontas

He then joined other settlers at Jamestown, Virginia. The ship in which Rolfe was present represented 3rd wave which was sent to the colony. And also it was the first British settlement company which was on the verge of becoming the United States. Virginia Company paid for the travel of the ship and initially, the settlement company failed to pay the fare. And that made the existence of Great Britain uncertain in the New World.

After that, Rolfe decided to plant a seed that he took along from the Caribbean. Soon the inhabitants found the crop which produced funds for them. The crop was Tobacco. As the time passed, Jamestown entered in a stable position as it started exporting 20,000 pounds of tobacco per year. And everyone was seeing Rolfe as the savior of the settlers. Despite this achievement, the biggest chapter of Rolfe’s life was still to come.

When Pocahontas baptized, John Rolfe stood behind her.

The English settlers that came to the Jamestown were the first Europeans to enter in the US and they were also the first Europeans North Americans had ever seen. Back in 1607, the daughter of Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas, was 11 years old when she had her first encounter with Captain John Smith.

When the English Captain was about to be exected, Pocahontas threw herself over him and saved him and that’s what made her famous. After that, she became friend with settlers and the settlers then repaid her kindness in 1613 by kidnapping her.

During the kidnap, a lot of changes occurred to Pocahontas as she converted to Christianity and learned English as well. During kidnap, she was also introduced to John Rolfe. According to the history, she was linked to the Captian Smith but it was Rolfe with whom she fell in love. He was also in love with Pocahontas as he wrote a letter to the Governor for permission of marrying to chief’s daughter. The chief also agreed to the proposal and both tied the knots in 1614. Their marriage caused 8 years of peace between their communities.

Back in 1616, “Lady Rebecca Rolfe” also known as Pocahontas traveled to England with his husband and son Thomas. The couple got a lot of fame in England as they were seated next to Queen Anne and King James I in a mosque. Unfortunately, Pocahontas wasn’t able to return to her homeland as she fell ill and died in 1617 when she was 21 years old. Even though their marriage remained for a short period of time but it was a happy and peaceful marriage.

After the death of her wife, Rolfe left Thomas to relatives and returned back to his homeland. In Virginia, he started working in colonial government and then got married again in 1619. This time he got married to Jane Pierce – daughter of an English colonist. The duo then had a kid following year.

Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas, died in 1618 and the peace which was established with the marriage of Rolfe and Pocahontas started unraveling. In 1622, Jamestown settlers were brutally attacked by the tribes and one-quarter of the settlers died. John Rolfe also died at the age of 37 but it was unclear whether he died due to attack or illness.