First Africans in English America

continued…..Unveiling the First Africans in English America
Next, we must explore the men who owned and captained the three intersecting ships on that fateful day.
The San Juan Bautista was captained by the Don Manuel Mendez de Acuna. Known to be of the powerful Acuna family to which Don Diego Sarmiento de Acuna, the Count of Gondomar also belonged.
The Treasurer’s ownership was shared between the powerful Earl of Warwick, Robert Rich II and the current Governor of Jamestown, Samuel Argall. In early 1618, Captain Daniel Elfrith was hired once again by Warwick to Captain the Treasurer. Elfrith, an active and known privateer in the West Indies as early as 1607, had captained the Treasurer before. Elfrith and the Treasurer left England in late April or early May 1618 and arrived in the Settlement of Virginia just as the Neptune, carrying Lord Del la Warre to retrieve Argall back to England was making its way into the mouth of the James River. Questions of foul play arose quickly. The Neptune’s Brewster accused the Treasurer of foul play and bad air. Lord Del la Warre, Sir Thomas West was dead. Governor Argall would in turn order his Treasurer, Elfrith and crew to the West Indies, to plunder what they may with the marque of Charles Emmanuel I, a commission Rich obtained from Count Sarnafissi, Emmanuel’s ambassador to England.
The White Lion was owned and captained by the Reverend John Colyn Jope, a Calvinist Minister from Merrifield in Cornwall England, just miles northwest of Plymouth. In 1619 on the captain’s maiden voyage, Jope would leave his wife, the well-connected Mary Glanville and the Port of Plymouth, heading for the West Indies with a Dutch Marque, a commission acquired through Prince Maurice.

The Bautista’s Cargo
In early 1619, the Kingdom of Ndongo in the Central Mountains of Angola, under siege by the Portuguese Governor Luis Mendes de Vasconcellos, is ransacked and men, women, and children are enslaved and marched to the Port of Luanda to be transported to the silver mines of Mexico.
Of the six slave ships leaving the port of Luanda in the summer of 1619 for the Port of Vera Cruz, only one would report a raid by English pirates. The San Juan Bautista, captained by the Don Manuel Mendez de Acuna.
Just weeks later in mid August 1619 the White Lion arrives with “twenty and odd” Africans. The Captain, carrying a Dutch marque, claims he took them from a floundering Spanish warship.
Documents recently discovered by Historian John Thornton determines they were the Northern Mbundu people who spoke Bantu, from the Kingdom of Ndongo. Only one other possibility exists. There was a report of some Portuguese Christian porters who accidently became caught up in the Imbangala’s slave march to the Port of Luanda, their port of origin and point of sale.
Of the three hundred fifty sold to the Bautista’s Captain Acuna there would only be “twenty and odd” blessed souls to make it to Englands’ young settlement of Virginia. Will the “twenty and odd” continue to be slaves as they were when they left Africa? Or do they find their freedom? Could God’s hand have been involved? Over the centuries many have said “God must have been involved.”

On this day in history…

Powhatan Chief Opechancanough

Powhatan Chief Opechancanough

On this day, April 18, 1644
More than 500 settlers are killed in the second major Powhatan uprising. This event touched off a two-year war between Native Americans and the colonists up and down the James River, ending in the capture and execution of the Powhatan Chief Opechancanough.

Gus Hall Family Home, Tildenville, Florida.

This Bungalow style home was built in 1919 by Gus Hall, General Manager of South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association.

Gus Hall House, Tildenville, Florida

Gus Hall House, Tildenville, Florida

Gus Hall Citrus Fruit Labels

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits Clover label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits Clover label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits Combination Brand Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits Combination Brand Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits Killarney Rose Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits Killarney Rose Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits - GH Brand label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits – GH Brand label


Gus Hall Citrus Fruits - BOX CAR #2

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits – BOX CAR #2

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits - Box Car Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits – Box Car Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits - Gus Hall Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits – Gus Hall Label

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall (1881-1956) began his long tenure in the citrus industry when he joined the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association as General Manager in 1910.  Under his leadership, South Lake grew from humble beginnings to an operation handling 641,000 boxes of fruit annually.  One of Hall’s successful innovations while at South Lake involved featuring his face on the Gus Hall Combination Brand crate label, making him instantly recognizable while attending industry events in northern markets.  After 31 years with South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association, Hall left to form his own operation, Gus Hall Citrus Fruits.  His packing house, located just west of Oakland in Killarney, was constructed by T&G Railroad on State Highway 438.  From South Lake, he brought his Gus Hall brand label and added other labels including Boxcar and GH.  In 1946, he sold his interest in the company, and it was renamed Killarney Fruit Company.

 

 

List of the Living and Dead February 1623

The following is a link to the List of the Living that was completed in February of 1623.  This was after the Great Massacre of 1622, in March and after the plague, brought with the Abigail from England on December 20, 1622.

http://files.usgwarchives.net/va/jamestown/census/1623cens.txt

 

The Great Massacre of 1622

Massacre of 1622

Massacre of 1622

The day would be like no other yet it started as every other had. The fields were active and the town was a bustle with merchants trading up and down the river as the natives began to arrive with their own trade. Then, like a bell tolling out, the natives turn savage mutilating one unsuspecting settler then the next. Bodies are strewn about, with no pause for woman or child. They all lay tangled, one with another, hacked and disfigured.

When the savagery calms and the tallies are made, some three hundred forty-seven souls are lost, a third of the struggling settlement’s total population. Of the eighty (80) plantations that were beginning to flourish up and down the James River, they all lay in wait, now gathered within eight (8) to sustain a position of defense.

General Muster of Virginia 1619/1620

Historians have long believed that the earliest documented Africans to arrive on American soil were brought in August of 1619, courtesy of a Dutch Captain. The evidence was confirmed in the earliest known count of the inhabitants of Virginia, known as the ‘List of the Living’, compiled after the Great Massacre of 1622. However, in the last decade, new discoveries have been made and some Historians now believe there was an earlier notation. Found in the Ferrar papers, the two page “General Muster of Virginia” dated March 1619 lists, at the bottom of the second page, thirty-two (32) Africans. Assuming that those same 32 Africans were there five months later when the “twenty and odd” arrive, there would have been no less than 53 Africans. The “List of the Living” completed after the Indian massacre of 1622 indicates that there were 23 Africans at that time. Historical records indicate that no Africans were killed in the 1622 massacre. That means that no less than 30 Africans died between August 1619 and 1622. Very unlikely. If this were the case, where would the 32 Africans have come from? How did they arrive? There are no records that indicate the arrival of any Africans prior to August of 1619 from England. If not England, where? In 1619, Virginia was an English settlement and all inhabitants were from England, with the exception of the occasional Frenchman or Italian.
Since the discovery of the Ferrar Papers, Martha W. McCartney proposed that the March 1619 muster was written in the old-style which dates it to 1620. Therefore, if the Muster was completed in 1620, the number of Africans jumped from ‘twenty and odd’ to 32 in less than a year?”  The answer to this question could fall within Dutton’s letters from Bermuda.  When the Treasurer arrived in Bermuda it was noted to be carrying 29 Africans.  Dutton reveals Gov. Miles Kendall only receiving 14 of these Africans.  It has been suggested by Historians Heywood & Thornton the balance of the Africans (approx. 15) returned on the Treasurer back to Virginia.

My Opinion: Many possibilities exist!  I feel the 23 Africans that are listed on the “List of the Living” are the same Africans that arrived in August 1619 on the White Lion. They were the first Africans to arrive at the English settlement of Virginia. There were none before them. The 32 Africans listed on the March 1619/1620 General Muster of Virginia  could have existed.  Hidden away in the Farrar papers, they became part of a scheme concocted to cover the tracks of piracy by an English aristocrat and his cronies.

Fate & Freedom

Discovering Margaret…..

Twenty and Odd Africans arrive in Virginia in 1619.  Most of their names are unknown, or quite possibly they were concealed.  The less known about the incident would be best.  The names we have are from the ‘List of the Living’ compiled after the Indian massacre of 1622.  They were Angela, Anthony, Isabel, Frances, Peter, Anthony, and Margaret.  The others were identified as only male or female as much about the whole incident would be camouflaged to protect the few involved.

Documents show that the Africans arrived at Old Pointe Comfort, Virginia in the later part of August, 1619.   The Captain, a former Calvinist Reverend turned Privateer, reported his only cargo as being “Twenty and Odd” Africans he took (pirated) from a floundering vessel off the coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico.  Under the watchful eye of the crown the incident is quietly reported.   John Pory, the Virginia Company’s newly appointed Secretary, writes in a letter to Sir Dudley Carleton dated September 30, 1619,

The San Juan Bautista's battle against the two English corsairs, the Treasurer and the White Lion.

The San Juan Bautista’s battle against the two English corsairs, the Treasurer and the White Lion.

“Having mett with so fitt a messenger as this man of Warre of Flushing.”   The letter goes on to tell of the arrival of some “twenty and odd” Africans brought by a Dutch Captain.

Was Pory disguising the ship to protect its captain and crew? Probably not.

Oddly, the letter was sent to Sir Dudley Carleton via messenger, Marmaduke Reynor, the English pilot of the White Lion.  This information alone is telling of some sort of an association. 
Was Pory’s loyalty to the company, trying to diminish the association by the cover of a Dutch marque?  Or was his loyalty to the Earl of Warwick?  Possibly it was to the English Crown.  But, clearly Pory’s loyalties didn’t align with the White Lion who was sent back into the English channels with a letter suggesting a Spanish piracy, not to mention, a cargo that would confirm Pory’s words.

Why?  There are several reasons.

Just months before the African’s arrival, Samuel Argall, the acting Governor of Virginia, was ordered to return to England to face questioning from the King’s Privy Council regarding the suggestion Virginia was nothing more than a Pirate’s haven.   The thought of a Spanish Piracy by an English ship so soon might be the last straw to an English King’s already tarnished image with Spain.  Proof of a Spanish piracy would surely condemn the Virginia Company, giving King James good reason to revoke their patent.

Another reason…..there were two ships involved, two English Corsairs.  When the Treasurer arrived at Pointe Comfort carrying Africans just days after the White Lion, oddly the Treasurer was immediately turned away, or was the ship warned off?  The Treasurer, captained by Daniel Elfrith was owned by Robert Rich II, Earl of Warwick, one of the most influential and powerful men in England.  The Treasurer would sail for Bermuda, an island known to be under the Earl of Warwick’s hand, where he could control the secrecy of the situation.

England would be tricky, as the White Lion was a common sight in the Port of Plymouth where the ship sat for years.  Reverend Jope had purchased the decayed White Lion from a member of his congregation, who captained the ship during the Elizabethan War between England and Spain 1585-1604.  In fact, it was the Port of Plymouth where Captain Jope re-launched the White Lion’s sails after the ten (10) years it took to refurbish the old war ship.    The White Lion, it’s captain and it’s crew were English, not Dutch as Pory’s letter would suggest and now their identities would need to be hidden under the association of a “Dutch” marque.

As fate would have it, the San Juan Bautista’s Captain Acuna, who reported the incident upon his arrival in Mexico, was kin to Count Gondomar, the Spanish Ambassador who was in the inner circle of England’s King James.  When the Spanish Captain Acuna makes claim to his kin that two English Corsairs pirated his San Juan Bautista just off the coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico stealing some fifty or sixty African slaves, Virginia becomes the target of Gondomar’s rage and demands retribution. For an English Captain in the year of 1619 the act of Spanish piracy would be a death sentence, for it was less than two years earlier Sir Walter Raleigh was be-headed for Spanish piracy, a result of Gondomar’s insistence under the Maritime Peace Treaty.
 

Continue to follow this blog as I reveal my findings while discovering Margaret.

Reaves Family Reunion circa. 1920

 L to r: Glover & Minnie Reaves, Irwin Reaves, Reva & Mrs Smith (?), Ada Reaves Clyatt, Mabel Reaves Johnson, Creacy Reaves Bronson, Ida Reaves Martin, Edwin Johnson, Albert & Lloyd Bronson, Asbury Reaves, Abbie & Sallie, Jimmie Reaves (great grandma), Mary & William Walker (Minnie Reaves' parents), James Reaves (great grandpa). Children: Kenneth Clyatt, Lindsey Clyatt, Irene Johnson, Olin Reaves, Creasy Reaves, Wilma Martin, Edith Reaves, Ruth Martin, friend of Mary & Mary Reaves, and Eunice Bronson.

L to r: Glover & Minnie Reaves, Irwin Reaves, Rev & Mrs Smith (?), Ada Reaves Clyatt, Mabel Reaves Johnson, Creacy Reaves Bronson, Ida Reaves Martin, Edwin Johnson, Albert & Lloyd Bronson, Asbury Reaves, Abbie & Sallie, Jimmie Reaves, Mary & William Walker (Minnie Reaves’ parents), James Reaves. Children: Kenneth Clyatt, Lindsey Clyatt, Irene Johnson, Olin Reaves, Creasy Reaves, Wilma Martin, Edith Reaves, Ruth Martin, friend of Mary & Mary Reaves, and Eunice Bronson.