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© June 2006; revised 7 August 2006 > HOME

Gallery Exhibit, Catalog Nos. 72 & 73 & 74 & 75 & 76

The “Zuñiga Chart” of Virginia, 1608
Ms. Chart of Virginia, “Sent from London, England, 10th Sept., 1608, by Zuñiga, to the King of Spain.” (Open a second window with the text of Zuñiga’s letter of transmittal and the eyewitness report Zuñiga enclosed with the chart.)
First published in 1890 as a keyed drawing, item LVII in volume 1 of Alexander Brown’s The Genesis of the United States. Map notations A., B., etc. have been added by Brown.

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THIS MS. CHART OF VIRGINIA is believed to have been one of the sources for the 1610/11 map of North America (or “Velasco Map”). In his interesting and detailed gloss of the 1608 Zuñiga chart (see below), Alexander Brown describes the connections between this chart and the Velasco map of 1610/11, both of which provided valuable intelligence not only for the Virginia Company and English court, but for the Spanish court as well.

Of note, Brown surmises that this English chart also proved useful to the Dutch, here suggesting

that copies of [Smith’s] “Relation” and of this chart were taken to Holland by Captain Henry Hudson in the latter part of 1608, and that they are referred to by Hudson as “letters and charts which one Captain Smith had sent him from Virginia, by which he (Smith) informed him (Hudson) that there was a sea leading into the Western Ocean by the North of the Southern English Colony,” about the latitude of forty degrees. On December 29, 1608 (0.S.), Captain Hudson, with the information derived by him in his native England, entered into a contract with the Dutch.

(Brown, Genesis of the United States I:184)

THE 1608 MS. CHART OF VIRGINIA is unattributed; we do not know who drew it. Captain John Smith may well have had a hand in it, since the chart illustrated his letter reporting on events in the colony to friends and stakeholders back home. But Alexander Brown has argued persuasively that there is no “real evidence that Smith could draw a map.” As for Smith’s well-known map of Virginia, engraved by William Hole and printed in 1612 and 1624, Brown points out that “the distances given in the text of his work do not always correspond with the distances on his map.”

It seems to me certain that this map was engraved from a copy of the Virginia part of CLVIII. Correct maps must be alike; but when one inaccurate map follows so closely another, as in this case, it furnishes quite conclusive proof that the latter was copied from the former.

(Brown, II:596)

Brown does “not believe that Smith made the drawing himself,” nor indeed does Smith “always claim to have done so,” referring in 1616 (in his A Description of New England) to the “Booke and Map printed in my name.”

To further bolster his argument that Smith used the drawings of other surveyors rather than making his own, Brown reproduces a sketch-map thought to be by Smith, since Smith enclosed it in a letter to Francis Bacon:

In 1618, “to show the difference betwixt Virginia and New England,” Smith sent Lord Bacon “maps of them both.” The map of New England is missing; I give the map of Virginia (CCXLIII.). I believe it to be an illustration of Smith’s capacity as a draughtsman as it is probably an attempt by Smith to copy from some drawing of our present North Carolina coast.

(Brown, II:596–7)

Ms. map, “A description of the land of Virginia.” Copy (by Captain John Smith?) of a sketch-map of Ralegh’s Virginia (present-day North Carolina), ca. 1585, attributed to John White. Smith sent this copy (tracing?) of the original sketch to Francis Bacon in 1618.
First published in 1890 as a keyed drawing, item CCXLIII in volume 2 of Alexander Brown’s The Genesis of the United States. Map notations 1 through 13 have been added by Brown.

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This map does not, however, offer proof of Smith’s rudimentary map-making skills. Far from being “an attempt” to copy “some drawing of our present North Carolina coast,” as Brown interprets it, the MS. map Smith sent to Bacon in 1618 duplicates (down to the very handwriting) an earlier pilot’s sketch attributed to John White. I’m not at all sure that Smith was the copyist.

Sketch-map of Ralegh’s Virginia (present-day North Carolina), showing the area from Pamlico Sound to Albemarle Sound (original in possession of the Public Record Office, London, MPG 584). The map “cannot be proved to be White’s work but is possibly his.” Drawn ca. July to late September, 1585.
Repr. on pg. 10 of Paul Hulton’s America, 1585.

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This original sketch-map is one of only five surviving maps resulting from the topographical survey carried out by Thomas Hariot and John White from Roanoke Island, 1585–6, and is

the result of the boat journeys in Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds made by the explorers between July and late September [1585]. It was constructed from elementary surveys requiring no more than compass bearings and estimated distances, and though very roughly executed yet shows some professional touches. It is a proper map, not a bird’s-eye view, containing a good deal of information about the botanical and zoological character of this part of the coast given in glosses written over the areas concerned, together with symbols for palisaded and open Indian villages (Pomeiooc and Secoton), and shoals and an indication of water depth. As an ecological document it comes close to what was required of Bavin. The writing on the map is probably not Harriot’s and no cursive writing by White exists with which to compare it. However, its basic italic character is not at odds with his formal italic found throughout the original drawings.

(Hulton, America, 1585: The
Complete Drawings of John White

The case for White’s draftsmanship is further evidenced by the fact that the sketch-map is “connected with, and is in some sense preparatory to, the engraved map in the De Bry volume, ‘The arriual of the Englishemen in Virginia.’”

The engraving in De Bry covering part of the same area but extending somewhat to the north, “The arriual of the Englishemen in Virginia” represents the final product deriving from such sketch-maps.... It is interesting to see that grapevines are indicated on the coast in the position shown in the sketch-map .... As in the sketch-map the artist has used easily recognizable symbols for vegetation, crops, villages, fish-weirs and shallows, though ecological information is not given by means of inscriptions as it is so liberally provided on the sketch-map.

(Hulton 32)

“The arrival of the Englishemen in Virginia.” Map of Ralegh’s Virginia (present-day North Carolina) engraved by Theodor de Bry (“T. B.”). Plate II from the illustrated English edition of Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia published by Theodor de Bry in 1590.
As glossed by Paul Hulton: “Though the drawing has not survived, the engraving is close to the sketch-map [attributed to White]. It shows part of Pamlico Sound, Roanoke Island, the mouth of Albemarle Sound and the Alligator River and part of Currituck Sound, with the Carolina Outer Banks divided into six islands. The area corresponds to the right-hand section of the sketch-map from which a few features have been taken — such as the site of the village of Pasquenoke and the grapevines in the area of Weapemeoc. ¶ The Indian village ‘Roanoac’, on Roanoke Island, appears for the only time in White’s maps. Unfortunately, he was less interested in locating the English settlement. Whereas the sketch-map is the first rough attempt to map the area, this map represents a more advanced stage in compiling the field-sketches made by Harriot and White.” (America, 1585, p. 187)

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Nor was this the only time Smith would borrow from White. Smith’s own printed maps of old (Roanoke settlement) and new (Jamestown settlement) Virginia drew liberally on de Bry’s engravings, made after the watercolor drawings of John White. In fact, Smith’s composite illustrated map of “Ould Virginia” (engraved by Robert Vaughan, and printed by James Reeve) expressly acknowledges his debt to existing Hariot-White-de Bry documentation, with a caption that reads:

The Countrey wee now call Virginia beginneth at Cape Henry distant from Roanoack 60 miles, where was Sr. Walter Raleigh’s plantation: and because the people differ very little from them of Powhatan in any thing, I have inserted those figures in this place because of the conveniency.

No doubt, “conveniency” had something to do with Smith’s decision to send an exact copy of the Hariot-White sketch-map of Ralegh’s Virginia (present-day North Carolina) to Francis Bacon in 1618, and imply it was his own work.

So, if Smith’s own lack of training in survey work and map making caused him to borrow from others rather than drawing up his own maps, who else, then in Virginia, might have produced the “Zuñiga Chart” of 1608?

One possibility is the surveyor, Captain Nathaniel Powell, who had come to Virginia in April, 1607. We know that Powell explored the Chesapeake Bay with Smith from 24 July through 7 September 1608, and the York River with Newport in the winter of 1608.

He was probably the author of the “Diarie of the second voyage in discovering the Bay,” which was sent to England by Newport in December, 1608; and the sixth chapter of Smith’s “History” was probably partially compiled from this “Diarie,” as it bears Powell’s signature, and it was probably “Captain Powell’s Map” of the bay and rivers which accompanied “The Relation of the Countries and Nations,” said to have been sent to England by Smith in December, 1608.

(Brown, II:971)

Brown is certain that “Captains Robert Tyndall [also Tindall], Isaac Madison, and Nathaniel Powell were making surveys, drawing maps, etc., for the [Virginia] company from the beginning.” (Brown, I:461)

Any one of them could have drafted the 1608 “Zuñiga Chart,” probably in collaboration with Smith, since the chart incorporates intelligence concerning his travels with the Pamunkey that only Smith could have known.

THE “ZUÑIGA CHART” WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED to illustrate Smith’s letter “to a worshipfull friend of his in England” and both were most likely sent from Virginia to England by way of Captain Francis Nelson in June 1608. His ship, the Phœnix, made a quick voyage home, reaching London before 7 July 1608.

Those parts of Smith’s letter dealing with events in Virginia from 26 April 1607 to 2 June 1608 — including the three-week period during which Smith was held captive by the Powhatan Indians (ca. 16 December 1607 through 8 January 1608) — were printed in London, about a month later, under the title A True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of noate as hath hapned in Virginia since the first planting of that Collony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last returne from thence:

August 13 [1608] there was entered at Stationer’s Hall for publication, by “John Tappe, printer and William Welby bookseller at the sign of the Greyhound, in Paules Church-yard. A booke called A True Relatione of such occurrences and accidents of note as have hapened in Virginia synce the first plantinge of that colonye, which is now resident in the South parte of Virginia, till Master Nelson’s comminge Away from them,” etc. It was probably a letter. It begins thus: “Kinde Sir, commendations remembred,” etc. Who the “Kinde Sir” was to whom it was addressed is not certainly known. It was printed with the running title, at the top of each page, “Newes from Virginia.” It is the only one of Smith’s works published by a stationer who was personally interested in the Virginia enterprises. William Welby afterwards became the publisher for the Virginia Company of London, and on the 1st of October, 1610, he assigned his interest in this tract to Michael Baker, who was not interested in Virginia. It was the first account of the Virginia colony published to the world. For cogent reasons it was not “Published by Authoritie of his Majesties Counsell of Virginia.”

(Brown, I:181)

Not only did the True Relation lack the imprimatur of the Virginia Company, but it also lacked any authorial permission and oversight. Indeed, the book’s editor, I. H. (or J. H., if we modernize the typesetting), admits to having published the title despite initial confusion as to who the real author was. In the preface “To the Courteous Reader,” I. H. explains how

... happening upon this relation by chance (as I take it, at the second or third hand) induced thereunto by divers well willers of the action, and none wishing better towards it then my selfe, so farre foorth as my poore abilitie can or may stretch too, I thought good to publish it: but the Author being absent from the presse, it cannot be doubted but that some faults have escaped in the printing, especially in the names of Countries, Townes, and People, which are somewhat strange unto us; but most of all, and which is the chiefe error, (for want of knowledge of the Writer) some of the bookes were printed under the name of Thomas Watson, by whose occasion I know not, unlesse it were the over rashnesse, or mistaking of the workemen [i.e., the printers], but since having learned that the saide discourse was written by Captaine Smith, who is one of the Counsell there in Virginia: I thought good to make the like Apollogie, by shewing the true Author so farre as my selfe could learne, not doubting, but that the wise [reader] noting it as an error of ignorance, will passe it over with patience; and if worthy an applauditie, to reserve it to the Author, whose paines in my judgement deserveth commendations; somewhat more was by him written, which being as I thought (fit to to be private) I would not adventure to make it publicke[.] [W]hat more may be expected concerning the scituation of the Country, the nature of the clime, number of our people there resident, the manner of their government, and living, the commodities to be produced, and the end and effect it may come too, I can say nothing more then is here written: only what I have learned and gathered from the generall consent of all (that I have conversed withall) as well marriners as others, which have had imployment that way; is that the Country is excellent and pleasant, the clime temperate and health full, the ground fertill and good, the commodities to be expected (if well followed) many, for our people, the worst being already past, these former having indured the heate of the day, whereby those that shall succeede, may at ease labour for their profit, in the most sweete, coole, and temperate shade: the action most honorable, and the end to the high glory of God, to the erecting of true religion among Infidells, to the overthrow of superstition and idolatrie, to the winning of many thousands of wandring sheepe, unto Christs fold, who now, and till now, have strayed in the unknowne paths of Paganisme, Idolatrie, and superstition: yea, I say the Action being well followed, as by the grave Senators, and worthy adventurors, it hath beene worthily begunne: will tend to the everlasting renowne of our Nation, and to the exceeding good and benefit of our Weale publicke in generall: whose Counsells, labours, godly and industrious endevours, I beseech the mightie Jehovah to blesse, prosper, and further, with his heavenly ayde, and holy assistance.

(J. H., Preface to Smith’s
A True Relation of 1608)

This mix-up resulted in three different title pages being printed, even though A True Relation was only issued in one edition:

[Ascription on the title pages that were probably first printed]

Written by a Gentleman of the said Collony, to a worshipfull friend of his in England.

[Ascription on what were probably the second title pages, specifying some author, though the wrong one]

Written by Th. Watson. Gent. one of the said Collony, to a worshipfull friend of his in England.

[Ascription on the corrected final title pages, issued with J. H.’s Preface]

Written by Captain Smith, Coronell of the said Collony, to a worshipfull friend of his in England.

(from Edward Arber’s 1895
edition of Smith’s Works, I:1)

As to be expected, A True Relation — which Smith’s 19th-century editor Edward Arber has described as “nothing but an ordinary ‘pamphlet of news,’” hence, “carelessly printed” — lacked any engraving of the companion manuscript chart which accompanied Smith’s original letter home in 1608. Then, as now, maps were much more difficult and expensive to print than plain text, requiring production skills held only by specialty printshops and publishers. Even so, some degree of supervision by an individual with knowledge of Virginia geography and map-making would have been required. Not only would a quality illustration of this sort have been out of place in a cheaply-printed newsbook, but it’s doubtful that J. H. would have had “second or third hand” access to the MS. chart in the first place. European employers kept all reports of discovery, especially their maps and plans, under the close

supervision of some of the best business men of the time ... they were never accessible to the public; no history was compiled from them, and no contemporary account was written by a properly qualified or properly equipped person.

(Brown, I:x)

As concerns the first Virginia colony, Company records were held by the secretary to the Royal Council in London, who was directed to

keepe safe in the Companies chest of evidences, the originals of all the Letters Patents, and other writings aforementioned: all the Bookes also aforesaid: All the Treasurers Bookes of the yearely accounts: The Husbands Bookes of accounts of every voyage to Virginia: and all other accounts perfected and approved by the Auditors. In the same chest shall be kept all Charter Parties, as well cancelled as uncancelled: All Bonds made to the Companie, or for their use: And all Bonds of the Companies discharged and cancelled: And all other writings and muniments whatsoever belonging to the Companie. And the Secretarie shall deliver out none of the Companies writings, but by direction from the Treasurer, Counseil or Court: taking a note of the parties hand for the true restoring of them.

(qtd. in Brown, I:ix)

Given such a restricted information flow, it’s not surprising that the Zuñiga chart, which documented Powhatan territory and recorded the colonists’ knowledge of its all-important waterways, would not see print until 1890, when Alexander Brown reproduced (as item LVII) the copy of it found in Spain among the Simancas Papers.

I suspect it was the unauthorized publication in 1608 of Smith’s letter “to a worshipfull friend of his in England” that prompted an even more formal clamp down on the flow of information coming from Virginia. In 1610, two years after Smith’s A True Relation appeared in print, the Irish spy Francis Maguel reported to the Spanish court that in Virginia,

... the anxiety they feel that the secrets of this country shall not become known, is so great that they have issued orders prohibiting anyone from taking letters with him beyond the frontiers, and also from sending any, especially to private individuals, without their being first seen and read by the Governor.

(repr. in Brown, I:398–9)

DESPITE VIRGINIA COMPANY RESTRICTIONS on the public dissemination of intelligence concerning the affairs of the colony, the 1608 chart did circulate in manuscript, as did so many texts back then, and copies of it were probably easier to procure than was the “Velasco Map,” two-plus years later. We know that the Spanish ambassador, Don Pedro de Zuñiga, sent a copy of the chart to Philip III on 10 September 1608, but curiously, Zuñiga’s brief letter of transmittal makes no mention of Smith’s A True Relation, or of Smith’s original letter from Virginia on which the printed Relation was based.

Rather, Zuñiga enclosed the chart with a separate “report given me by a person who has been there.” Either “through ignorance or design,” this brief report (reproduced as item LIX in Brown) passed on bad intelligence to the Spanish, especially concerning the geography of the region. So in this case, at least, Smith’s publicly available A True Relation offered a more reliable eyewitness account than did the narrative with which Zuñiga paired the chart for the Spanish court.

With his thorough commentary (see below), Alexander Brown has collated the two Smith-associated texts, expanding on the chart’s legends by comparing them against the narrative given in Smith’s A True Relation (and on occasion, other substantiating or conflicting accounts well). As a visual aid for his own commentary, Brown has added eight reference points (letters A through H) to the chart:

The legends on this map are designated in the order in which they are given in the text [of Brown’s commentary; see below] pp. 185–188, by the letters A. B. C., etc. These letters are not on the original Map.

Of particular interest, the chart maps Smith’s journey with the Pamunkeys, from when he was first captured about 6 miles from Rasawrock by their chief, Opechancanough, in mid-December 1607; to his arrival about 2 weeks later at Werowocomoco (Powhatan’s seat), 12 miles from the Jamestown colony; to his subsequent return to Jamestown:

The route the Indians took Smith after his capture is pricked down on the chart.

(Brown, I:187)

Smith’s chart of the rivers and annexed relation of “the Countries and Nations that inhabit them” provides a more matter-of-fact, less romanticized account of his time with the Pamunkeys than the more embellished versions of the story he would produce for public consumption in 1616 and 1624. Most curiously, there is no mention of Pocahontas in A True Relation until several months after Smith’s return to Jamestown. Smith describes how her father sent Pocahontas —

his Daughter, a child of tenne yeares old: which, not only for feature, countenance, and proportion, much exceedeth any of the rest of his people: but for wit and spirit, [is] the only Nonpariel of his Country

— to the English fort in May 1608 to negotiate on his behalf for the release of Indian prisoners held by Smith. Powhatan’s ploy apparently worked, and in a mutually beneficial exercise of “subtill wit and crafty understanding,” Smith took his Paspaheyan prisoners

to the Church; and after prayer, gave them to Pocahuntas, the Kings Daughter, in regard of her fathers kindnesse in sending her. After having well fed them, as all the time of their imprisonment, we gave them their bowes, arrowes, or what else they had; and with [their] much content, sent them packing. Pocahuntas also we requited with such trifles as contented her, to tel that we had used the Paspaheyans very kindly in so releasing them.

The less dramatic Indian narratives of A True Relation (not only Pocahontas, but also Opechancanough, the chieftainess of Appamatuck, and Powhatan himself are more evenly depicted here) better suited Smith’s purpose and audience at the time. His 1608 letter from Virginia was written to justify his recent actions to his sponsors in England; the sort of “edutainment” he would produce for the press in 1624 would have been most inappropriate in the earlier context.

Two men in Smith’s command were slain when he was taken captive by the Pamunkeys, and this had political repercussions after Powhatan released Smith in the care of four Pamunkey guides who delivered him back to Jamestown in the best of health. Alexander Brown comments:

There had been great suffering, and many misfortunes had happened in Virginia, and as a result there was much trouble in the council. Ratcliffe, Martin, and Smith had removed Wingfield, not only from the presidency, but from the council also, and had elected Ratcliffe president. Archer was afterwards taken into the council, and under his leadership, it seems, Smith was about to be hanged for allowing the Indians to kill and secure the bodies of several of his men; but in the midst of the turmoil Captain Newport arrived and “pored oil on the troubled waters.” [Capt. Edward-Maria Wingfield’s MS. Discourse of Virginia, 1608] is Wingfield’s account of his case. [Smith’s A True Relation] is Smith’s account of his stewardship. Archer presented his side of the case, but this account has not been found, and I suppose [Captain George] Percy ... also gave an account; but if so, Purchas suppressed it. [Wingfield’s MS. Discourse of Virginia] and [Smith’s A True Relation] are both ex parte evidence. However, [Wingfield’s] is evidently addressed to the proper authorities, and the author pledges to them on his faith and his life, the truth of his journal. While [Smith’s] is addressed by the author to some unknown friend of his in England, and it was published without authority from the council and erroneously, as “written by Th: Watson gent.” As an offsett for the loss of his men, Smith tells in [A True Relation] of what he had learned of the nearness of the great South Sea, and this was a balm apt to heal all wounds at that time. I think [A True Relation] leaves a more favorable impression than Smith’s later works; it is true that he does not conceal his good opinion of himself, but his vanity and injustice to others increased with his age.

(Brown, I:182–3)

BROWN RAISES SEVERAL OTHER ISSUES worth mentioning in his commentary on the 1608 Zuñiga Chart.

1.  Given that questions of scale, perspective, and working grids continue to surface in relation to the “Velasco Map” of 1610/11 (which probably incorporated information from the Zuñiga Chart, along with other available documents), Brown’s notes here regarding comparative scales may be useful. Brown observes that the 1608 MS. chart of Virginia

is not drawn to an exact scale; but on comparing it with XLVI. made about the same time, and with CLVIII., it seems to have been drawn on the basis of about five miles, or say 1½ leagues to an inch.

2. Brown also comments on the Zuñiga Chart’s depiction of an island in the James River which has since disappeared:

It will be seen that this chart gives an island in James River, in the bend above the mouth of the Appomattox, which is evidently the “Turkey Island” of the first explorers. There is no island there now.

Presuming this was not a floating island, I can’t help but wonder what in fact happpened to it, and when. We know that Turkey Island was still a physical phenomenon in the river towards the end of the 17th century, since Colonel William Randolph, who first arrived in Virginia in 1674,

established his estate on Turkey Island (since disappeared) in James river, about 20 miles below Richmond.

(Bushnell, “Discoveries Beyond the Appalachian
Mountains in September, 1671” 49n5)

The first description of Turkey Island occurs in Captain Gabriel Archer’s MS., A relatyon of the Discovery of our River, from Iames Forte into the Maine; made by Captaine Christofer Newport: and sincerely writen and observed by a gent: of ye Colony. Archer’s Relation describes Captain Newport’s May–June 1607 exploratory expedition to “Captain Newports faulls” on the James river (now Richmond, VA) with a group of 24 men, including Archer, Smith, George Percy, and Robert Tindall. Here we read that approximately 34 miles “up the Ryver” from James Fort

we founde an Ilet, on which were many Turkeys, and great store of yonge byrdes like Black birdes .... The Ryver skantes of his breadth 2. mile before we come to the Ilet mentyoned which I call Turkey Ile: yet keepes it a quarter of a mile broade most commonly, and Depe water for shipping....

(repr. in Arber, I:xli–xlii)

In fact, several islands besides Turkey Island seem to have come and gone as the Virginia environment has evolved over the centuries. For example,

Jamestowne, on the Powhaton, thirty-eight miles from the sea, is almost an island on Smith’s map as on that of Robert Tyndall of 1608 and on the Simancas map of 1610. Today, it is an island.

(Fite & Freeman, A Book of Old Maps 119)

3. Brown’s commentary also raises an interesting question concerning the Indians’ communication to Smith (as documented in A True Relation)

that a ship was up the Rappahannock River in 1603–1606; if so I [Brown] have no other record of it. It could hardly refer to the Spanish ship in 1572?

As recorded on the 1608 Zuñiga Chart, during his captivity, Smith was taken to the village of Topahanocke (Toppohanock on the chart) in order to verify whether or not he was the European captain who had earlier slain and enslaved Indians in that area. As Smith tells it in A True Relation:

From hence this kind King conducted mee to a place called Topahanocke, a kingdome upon another River northward: The cause of this was, that the yeare before, a shippe had beene in the River of Pamaunke, who having been kindly entertained by Powhatan their Emperour, they returned thence, and discovered the River of Topahanocke: where being received with like kindnesse, yet he slue the King, and tooke of his people, and they supposed I were hee. But the people reported him [to be] a great [tall] man that was [the] Captaine, and using mee kindly, the next day we departed.

As far as I’m aware, the identity of this earlier “discoverer” of the Topahanocke river who betrayed Powhatan’s friendship is still not known.

4. Finally, Brown’s closing memorandum for the 1608 Zuñiga Chart gives a fascinating account of the Croatan Indians, written by one Mr. Hamilton McMillan of Robeson County, North Carolina. McMillan’s account of the public oration of “an old Indian, named George Lowrie” raises several issues of consequence relating to racialized political identities in the region and to ongoing historical interest in “Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony,” whose fate Brown traces in the lines of the 1608 Zuñiga Chart.

It will be noted that the Croatan tradition is not at variance with the chart, from which it seems the Indians and lost colonists went from Roanoke westward up the present Roanoke River to Ocanohowan, and from thence to Pakrakanick (or Peccarecamek, Strachey), probably on the Neuse River, near Sampson County, where it seems they were reported to be in 1608.

(Brown, I:190)

A callout for the island of Croatoan appears on White’s watercolor map of Virginia “La Virgenia Pars” (Gallery Cat. No. 70) and de Bry’s engraving of the Hariot-White map of Virginia, “Americæ pars ...” (Gallery Cat. No. 69).

Before leaving England for Virginia on 15 May 1609, Sir Thomas Gates (the first “sole and absolute governor” of the Virginia colony) was instructed by the Council to establish a foothold “above the river falls” (i.e., “Captain Newports faulls”), from whence it was thought the English would have a better chance of locating the survivors of Ralegh’s Lost Colony:

Above the river falls, of the Kings river it is likely you shal find some convoenient place to this purpose, whither noe enemy with ease can approach ... besides you shall have the commodity of the branches of the rivers to bringe downe your provisions from with the lands in canoes and small boates in the river of Chechehommack, neere unto you and not farr of[f] another navagable outlett into the sea by the river of Pamouke.

Four dayes Journey from your forte Southerward is a town called Ohonahorne seated where the river Choanock divideth itself into three branches and falleth into the sea of Rawnocke in thirty five degrees. This place if you goe by Indian guides from Jame’s forte to Winocke by water, from thence to Manqueock some seventy myles from thence to the Cuththoga, as much and from thence to Oconahoen you shall finde abundance fruitfull seat, everyway unacessable by a strainger enemy, much more abundant in Pochon and in the grasse silke ....

If you make your principall and choise seate you shall doe most safely and richly because you are in the heart of Lands [? open] to the south and two of the best rivers will supply you, besides you are neare to with Copper mines of Ritanoe and may passe them by one branch of this river, and by another Peccarecamicke where you shall finde four of the Englishe alsoe, lost by sr Walter Raweley, which escaped from the slaughter of Powhatan of Roanocke upon the first arivall of our Colony and live under the protection of a wiroano call’d Sepanocon enemy to Powhatan by whose consent you shall never receive them, one of these were worth much laboar and if you finde them not, yet search into this countrey it is more probable than towardes the North.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For Powhatan and his Weroances it is cleere seem to reason, besides our experiences, that hee loved not our neighboorhood and theirfore you may noe way trust him, but if you finde it not best to make him your Prisoner yet you must make him your tributory and all other his weroances about him first to acknowledg noe other Lord but King James and soe wee shall free them all from the Teranny of Powhatan.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you make friendship with any of thiese nations as you must doe, choose to do it with those that are farthest from you & enemies unto those amongst whome you dwell for you shall have least occasion to have differences with them, and by that means a surer league of amity. And you shalbe surer of their trade partly for covetousness and to serve their owne ends, where the copper is yet in his primary estimation which Pohatan hath hitherto engrossed and partly for feare of contraint, Monocon to the east head of our river, Powhatans enemy and the Manahockes to the northeast to the head of the river Moyomps. in the necke of, to the west, between our bay and the sea Cathcataprius a great[er] weroance, than hee is, also his enemy, to the Southeast and south he hath noe friends. to the North the Masawoymeles make incoursions upon him and upon all those that inhabite rivers of Bolus and Moyomps and to the northwest part Coughtuwonough infesteth him with a terribl warr ... to the North at the head of the Bay is a lardge towne where is store of Copp[er] and ffurs called Cataanron that trade and discovery will be to great purpose if it may be settled yearely.

(“Instructions, Orders and Constitutions
by Way of Advise Set Downe, Declared
and Propounded to Sir Tho. Gates,
Knight Governour of Virginia”;
extracts repr. in Bushnell, “Virginia
— from early records” 34–5)

Clearly, Company directors were studying very closely the maps and other supporting documentation they had received from Virginia through 1609 — including the 1608 Zuñiga Chart — and using the intelligence contained therein to set colonial policy.

Alexander Brown’s Commentary on the Zuñiga chart of Virginia

Item LVII, “Chart of Virginia”

(from Alexander Brown, The Genesis of the
United States
, i:184–90)

“This chart must have been sent to England by Captain Francis Nelson, who left Virginia June 2, 1608. It is not drawn to an exact scale; but on comparing it with XLVI. made about the same time, and with CLVIII., it seems to have been drawn on the basis of about five miles, or say 1½ leagues to an inch. It illustrates Captain John Smith’s ‘True Relation’, and was sent from Virginia with it. The ‘Relation’ was published in August 1608; but I have never seen an engraving of this chart. I am convinced that copies of this ‘Relation’ and of this chart were taken to Holland by Captain Henry Hudson in the latter part of 1608, and that they are referred to by Hudson as ‘letters and charts which one Captain Smith had sent him from Virginia, by which he (Smith) informed him (Hudson) that there was a sea leading into the Western Ocean by the North of the Southern English Colony,’ about the latitude of forty degrees. On December 29, 1608 (0.S.), Captain Hudson, with the information derived by him in his native England, entered into a contract with the Dutch. We have here, with this chart in Spain and with Hudson in Holland with Smith’s letters and charts, another strong illustration of the great necessity the Virginia Company was under to keep close its charts, records, etc., and the great danger to them which might result by having in their official service one through whom such things reached outsiders.

“The legends on the chart:——

[legend A]

“‘Here remayneth 4 men clothed that came from Roonock to Ocanahawan.’

LIV. says: ‘What he knew of the Dominions he spared not to acquaint me with, as of certaine men cloathed at a place called Ocanahonan, cloathed like me.’ — and ‘Many Kingdomes hee (Powhatan) described to me.... The people clothed at Ocamahowan, he alsoe confirmed.’

CCXVII. says: ‘Where at Peccarecamek and Ochanahoen, by the relation of Machumps, the people have howses built with stone walles, and one story above another, so taught them by those Englishe whoe escaped the slaughter at Roanoak, at what tyme this our Colony, under the conduct of Captain Newport, landed within the Chesapeake Bay, where the people breed up tame turkeis about their howses, and take apes in the mountaines, and where at Ritanoe, the Weroance Eyanoco preserved seven of the English alive — fower men, two boyes and one yonge mayde. (who escaped [the massacre ?] and fled up the river of Chanoke) — to beat his copper, of which he hath certaine mynes at the said Ritanoe, as also at Pamawank are said to be store of salt stones.’ There is the following side-note in Strachey: ‘Howses of stone, tame Turkyes, and Monkyes, supposed at Peccartcanick.’

“[MEM.——The three rivers given on the chart, south of the James, were probably intended for the Neuse, the Tar, and the Roanoke rivers. Ocanahowan was probably supposed to be on the Neuse.]

[legend B]

“‘Here the King of Paspahege reported our men to be and wants to go.’ This is possibly in the present Sampson County, North Carolina.

[legend C]

“‘Here Paspahege and 2 of our own men landed to go to Pananiock.’

“This is the Pananaioc of Smith’s Map of Ould Virginia.

“Smith says in his ‘True Relation’: ‘We had agreed with ye King of Paspahegh to conduct two of our men to a place called Panawicke beyond Roonok, where he reported many men to be apparelled. Wee landed him at Warraskoyack, where playing the villaine, and deluding us for rewards, returned within three or foure dayes after without going further.’ Smith is here referring to an expedition of January or February, 1608, under Newport. He does not mention this incident at this time in his General History; but in referring to an expedition of December, 1608, under his own command, he says, that he sent from Warraskoyack, Master Sicklemore and two guides ‘to seeke for the lost company of Sir Walter Raleigh’s.’

“[MEM.——The landing from the chart was probably in Pagan Creek, Isle of Wight County.]

[legend D]

“‘Amongst high rocks,’ etc. I am unable to decipher this legend.

“In his ‘True Relation,’ Smith says: ‘Within 4. or 5. daies Journey of the Falles was a great turning of Salt Water’ — and again, ‘I tolde him [Powhatan] in that I would have occasion to talke of the backe Sea, that on the other side of the maine, where was Salt Water, my father had a childe slaine, which wee supposed [by] Monocan his enemie, whose death we intended to revenge. After good deliberation, hee began to describe mee the countreys beyond the Falles, with many of the rest, confirming what not only Opechancanoyes, and an Indian which had been prisoner to Powhatan had before tolde me, but some called it five dayes, some sixe, some eight, where the sayde water dashed amongest many stones and rocks, each storme, which caused oft tymes the heade of the River to bee brackish: Anchanachuck he described to bee the people that had slaine my brother, whose death hee would revenge.’

“Strachey says: ‘Yt (the James River) falleth from rocks far west, in a country inhabited by a nation, that they call Monocan.... from high hills afar off within the lands, from the topps of which hills, the people saie they see another sea, and that the water is there salt; and the journey to this sea, from the Falls, by their accompt, should be about ten daies, allowing, according to a march, some fourteen or sixteen miles a day.’

[legend E]

“‘Monacan 2 days Jorney.’

“From the Falls (Richmond) to the present Manakin town is less than twenty miles.

[legend F–G;
Brown does not separately comment
on the legend for G., which reads
“2 days journey,” as I interpret it]

“‘20 miles above this C. S. was taken.’ The site of Apocant, on this chart, is placed farther west than the Falls (Powhatan). If this is correct ‘20 miles above’ would be higher up than the present Goochland line; but the chart is not drawn to an exact scale, and without giving tiresome details, I will only give it as my opinion that the capture more probably took place near the present line between Hanover and New Kent.

“The route the Indians took Smith after his capture is pricked down on the chart. After collating the various evidences in the premises with Smith’s narrative in his ‘True Relation,’ I believe the following to be approximately correct. Smith seldom gives dates. He was taken prisoner about the 16th of December, 1607, and taken that day ‘about 6 miles to a hunting town’ (Rasawrock), where he probably spent the next day; on the 18th he was carried to another kingdom on the Youghtanan (Pamunkey) river; thence to Mattapament (Mattapony) River; thence to two hunting towns, and ‘after this foure or five dayes march,’ he was returned again to Rasawrock about the 23d. Breaking up camp on the 24th, they marched to Menapacute (near the present West Point), reaching there on the second day’s journey (25). The next day (26th) they visit Kekataugh, and thence, marching along northward, passing across the headwaters of the Payankatank, Smith is taken to Topahanocke (Tappahannock, Essex County?), reaching there the 27th; the next day (28th) departed and lodging that night at a hunting town of Powhatan’s, they arrived the next day (29th) at Warawocomoco, ‘Where Powhatan, assured mee [Smith] his friendship and my libertie within foure dayes.’ January 1, 1608, ‘Powhatan sent Smith home with four men,’ etc.; he arrived at Jamestown early on the morning of Saturday, January 2d, and ‘Nuport arrived the same night.’ The Indians kept Smith a prisoner about 16 days, yet he says, in his History of Virginia, ‘Sixe or seven weekes those Barbarians kept him prisoner.’

“Smith says that he ‘was taken to Topahanocke, a Kingdome upon another River northward: because, the yeare before, a shippe had beene in the River of Pamaunke, who having been kindly entertained by Powhatan their Emperour, they returned thence, and discovered the River of Topahanocke, where being received with like kindnesse, yet he slue the King, and tooke of his people, and they supposed I were hee, but the people reported him a great man that was Captaine, and using mee kindly, the next day we departed.’ XLIX. says: ‘Pamaonche having Smith prisoner carryed him to his neybors Wyroances to see if any of them knew him for one of those which had bene some twoe or three yeeres before us, in a river amongst them Northward, and taken awaie some Indians by force.’ From these statements we infer that a ship was up the Rappahannock River in 1603–1606; if so I have no other record of it. It could hardly refer to the Spanish ship in 1572?

“From XLVI., from this chart, from CLVIII., and from the map engraved for Captain Smith, it is evident that Werawocomoco was on the present Purtan or Putin Bay, York River. In fact this bay retains its original name. Tindall calls it Poetan (i.e. Powhatan), Fry and [Peter] Jefferson Portan, and the present coast survey Purtan. Those who have placed it on Timberneck Bay and elsewhere, in the Cantauntack (or as CCXLII. and CLVIII. have it, the Capahowasick) country, have, as usual, been led into an error by the text of Smith’s History of Virginia, which says that Werawocomoco was ‘about 25 miles’ from where the river divided (West Point). The text (25 miles) is wrong, the chart (about 11 miles) is correct.

[legend H]

“‘Pocaughtawonaucks, a salvage people dwelling upon the bay beyond this mayne that eat of men and women.’

“In his ‘True Relation’ Smith says: Powhatan ‘described also upon the same sea [the Back Sea] a mighty Nation called Pocoughtronack, a fierce Nation that did eate men, and warred with the people of Moyaoncer, and Pataromerke, Nations upon the toppe of the heade of the Bay, under his territories, where the yeare before they had slain an hundred, he signified their crownes were shaven, long haire in the necke, tied on a knot, Swords like Pollaxes. Beyond them he described people with short coates, and sleeves to the Elbowes, that passed that way in shippes like ours. Many Kingdomes hee described mee to the heade of the Bay, which seemed to bee a mightie River, issuing from mightie Mountaines betwixt the two Seas.’

“It will be seen that this chart gives an island in James River, in the bend above the mouth of the Appomattox, which is evidently the ‘Turkey Island’ of the first explorers. There is no island there now.

“[MEM.——In 1888 Mr. Hamilton McMillan, A.M., of Robeson County, North Carolina, published an historical sketch of ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony, with the traditions of An Indian Tribe in North Carolina indicating the fate of the Colony,’ etc. From this I will give extracts.

“‘In the latter part of 1864 three young men of the Croatan tribe, who had been drafted to work on the fortifications at Fort Fisher, were killed, it is supposed, by a white man who had them in custody. An inquest was held, and at its conclusion an old Indian, named George Lowrie, addressed the people assembled, in substance as follows: “We have always been the friends of white men. We were a free people long before the white men came to our land. Our tribe was always free. They lived in Roanoke in Virginia. When the English came to Roanoke our tribe treated them kindly. One of our tribe went to England in an English ship and saw that great country. We took the English to live with us. There is the white man’s blood in these veins as well as that of the Indian. In order to be great like the English, we took the white man’s language and religion, for our people were told they would prosper if they would take white men’s laws. In the wars between white men and Indians we always fought on the side of white men. We moved to this land and fought for liberty for white men, yet white men have treated us as negroes. Here are our young men shot down by a white man and we get no justice, and that in a land where our people were always free.”’

“This speech caused Mr. McMillan to investigate the history and traditions of this tribe.

“‘They assert that the English colony became incorporated with the tribe, which soon after emigrated westward, — to what is now Sampson County, — a portion to Cumberland County, and they had probably settled on the Lumber River in Robeson County as early as 1650, where they were found by the Huguenots in 1709, having farms and roads and other evidences of civilized life. Their language is almost pure Anglo-Saxon. Many of the words have long been obsolete in English-speaking countries.’

“It will be noted that the Croatan tradition is not at variance with the chart, from which it seems the Indians and lost colonists went from Roanoke westward up the present Roanoke River to Ocanohowan, and from thence to Pakrakanick (or Peccarecamek, Strachey), probably on the Neuse River, near Sampson County, where it seems they were reported to be in 1608.]”

Title page of 1673 work spoofing
narratives of discovery such as
Captain John Smith’s
Generall Historie
Open a second window for a brief account of the 17th-century floating island as a cultural, as well as physical, phenomenon.

View an enlarged 700 x 1130
pixel GIF image

“I do not much wish well to discoveries, for I am always afraid they will end in conquest and robbery.”

—Samuel Johnson

Related Links

• an IN BRIEF topic on the fate of “Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony” and its possible absorption into the coastal tribe of Croatan Indians

• facsimiles of White’s watercolor map of Virginia, “La Virgenia Pars” (Gallery Cat. No. 70) and de Bry’s engraving of the Hariot-White map of Virginia, “Americæ pars ...” (Gallery Cat. No. 69) with their callouts for Croatoan in the GALLERY exhibit, Powhatan’s Deerskin Mantle with Shell Map, ca. 1608

Ken Bradby’s webessay comparing the Smith-inspired Pocahontas narratives of the 17th century with the Pamunkey-authored version staged by “Powhatan’s Pamunkey Indian Braves” from the 1890s on (a IN BRIEF topic)

• a GALLERY exhibit on Robert Tindall’s MS. “Draught of Virginia ... Anno 1608”

• a GALLERY exhibit on the 1610/11 map of North America (also known as the “Velasco Map”)

• a GALLERY exhibit on Captain John Smith’s “A Map of Virginia,” pub. in 1612 and 1624

• an IN BRIEF biography of Don Pedro de Zuñiga, Spanish ambassador to the court of London from 1605–10, and “ambassador extraordinary to James I” in 1612

• an IN BRIEF biography of Captain John Smith

• a digital transcription of “the report which the Irishman made touching Virginia” — Francis Maguel’s report of 1610 (reproduced as item CXXXI in Brown) — in the LIBRARY

• a digital transcription of another letter from Flecknoe to Madamoiselle de Beauvais, princess of Aramberg (this time concerning his voyage to the Portuguese colony of Brazil) in the LIBRARY

• a digital transcription of Gabriel Archer’s 1607 Relation concerning Newport’s expedition to “Captain Newports faulls” on the James river in the LIBRARY

• a digital transcription of Edward Bland’s 1651 Relation concerning his expedition to the Falls of Bland at the head of the James river in the LIBRARY

• a digital transcription of Captain John Smith’s various relations concerning his Pamunkey captivity in the LIBRARY

• bibliographic citation for Chet Van Duzer’s book on floating islands



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