jamestown heading

I. Native Women

II. First Women

III. More Women

IV. Cash Crop

V. Women's Lives

Indentured Servant

VII. Wives

VIII. Living Condition

IX. Family Life

X. Women's Work

XI. Fate of Jamestown


III. More Women Arrive

In August of 1609, about twenty women arrived on ships sent by the Virginia Company of London. One hundred more women arrived a few months later. Many of the female passengers on the first ships were traveling with their husbands and families. All were recruited by the Virginia Company, a land-development, stock-issuing corporation based in London.

Aerial view of Flowerdew Hundred, plantation home of Temperance Flowerdew Yeardley.
Aerial view of Flowerdew Hundred, plantation home of Temperance Flowerdew Yeardley
Credit: Flowerdew Hundred Museum

For the most part these women’s names are lost, but a few survive in the records. Temperance Flowerdew Yeardley, wife of Captain George Yeardley, landed in 1609 and survived the ensuing “starving time.” The Yeardleys returned to England in 1618 at which time King James I knighted George Yeardley. In 1619 they returned to Virginia, where Sir George was appointed Colonial Governor of Virginia. The Yeardleys became one of the most prominent families in Virginia, owning a large plantation named Flowerdew Hundred, which was Temperance’s surname prior to marriage.

Joan Pierce sailed with her husband William and daughter Jane. By all accounts, Joan was a dauntless woman and enjoyed the challenges of living in Virginia. During a visit to England in 1629, she was described as “an honest and industrious woman [who] hath been [in Virginia] nearly 20 years.” She apparently considered the new colony rich in resources; she was quoted as saying that “she can keep a better house in Virginia . . . than in London.”(1)

Her daughter, Jane Pierce, married John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas. Pocahontas had been the favored daughter of Chief Powhatan, and her marriage to Rolfe in 1614 brought over eight years of peace between the settlers and Native Americans, during which the colony was able to produce profitable tobacco. Pocahontas died in England in 1617, and Rolfe returned to Jamestown. He became active in colonial politics and married Jane Pierce later that year. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, also named for the powerful Virgin Queen.(2)

Thomasine Causey sailed to Virginia in 1609 to be with her husband who had made the trip a year before. The specifics of her family and voyage are not known, but many women were in the same situation: while their men took off for the New World, women supported their families and managed the finances. Before leaving England to join their husbands, these women made the decisions about selling property and planning for the long voyage.

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