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Jamestown 1607

The first permanent English settlement in America

On December 20th 1606 three ships - the Godspeed, the Discovery and the Susan Constant - left London with the blessing of King James I of England (formerly King James VI of Scotland), bound for Virginia. The ships were carrying 144 male settlers, 40 of whom died on the journey.

They first landed on May 13th 1607 at Cape Henry (today known as Virginia Beach, and twinned with North Down Borough Council). They moved on and on 14th May they established the first permanent English settlement in the New World - exactly one year after the Hamilton & Montgomery Settlement began in Ulster. It was an enterprise planned by the newly-established Virginia Company of London to settle Virginia with people from England, initially under the direction of Englishman Captain Christopher Newport, and eventually by experienced English soldier Captain John Smith.

They called the new Virginian settlement Jamestown, in honour of the King. They established the Jamestown settlement on lands in Virginia which were close to the main village of local native American Chief Powhatan. Powhatan’s daugher, Pocahontas, is said to have saved Smith’s life, an act for which she was invited to London by King James I in 1617.

The Jamestown Settlement established the first permanent English settlement in the New World. It was the Birthplace of America.

Captain John Smith
Captain John Smith was a farmer's son, born in Lincolnshire in 1580, and therefore about 20 years younger than Hamilton and Montgomery. His father, George Smith, was a yeoman tenant of war hero Lord Willoughby, and when George died, John left home aged 16 and became a mercenary in the European wars.

Just like Sir Hugh Montgomery, Smith had fought in the Dutch army against the Spanish in the late 1500s. He later fought as a mercenary in the Austrian army against the Ottoman empire, where he was captured, taken to Turkey and escaped via Russia. During his time on continental Europe he tried to become a courtier of King James VI of Scotland, however he was around 20 years old and perhaps youth counted against him. He failed to become a courtier and returned to England as a young yet highly experienced soldier in 1604.