RELEASE DATE: MAY 13, 2007
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825
Four hundred years ago tomorrow, the first colonists sent to America by the Virginia Company of London began building an outpost in what is now the state of Virginia. Facing many hardships, the frontier fortification struggled to survive. A successful outcome was often questionable. Managing to endure against the odds, the outpost became known as Jamestown--the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States.
In just the first twenty-eight years of its founding, thousands of people of varied ancestry--including persons of African, English, German, and Polish descent--began arriving (some voluntarily, some not) and settling in Jamestown and surrounding areas. Data on these intrepid pioneers as well as Native Americans can be found in Martha W. McCartney's remarkable new publication VIRGINIA IMMIGRANTS AND ADVENTURERS, 1607 - 1635: A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.
In her preface and introduction, McCartney presents interesting details about her goals, new discoveries about the colonists, and sources. A thirty-one page introductory chapter provides a brief history of the colony up to 1635 and valuable background data about where and how most of the people lived. Seventy-eight locations are keyed by number to a map showing the early settlements in Virginia. Tying individuals and families to specific sites helps genealogists put in perspective the cultural landscape inhabited by their ancestors at the time.
As expected, McCartney's biographical dictionary contains documented sketches about the colonists who became prominent. Unlike other publications, however, her book contains as much documented information as she could find on the ordinary men, women, and children who composed the majority of the approximately 5,500 pioneers between the years 1607 and 1635. For each person the amount of material varies, ranging from several paragraphs for a notable individual to only a sentence or two for a laborer. When possible, facts about the colonists include their origin, name of the ship on which they sailed, name of the "hundred" or "plantation" where they resided, names of their spouse(s) and any children, occupation or position in the colony, and names of relatives. Women who married more than once are cross-referenced under the name of each husband. Pocahontas is listed under her Indian name and under her Christian married name Rebecca ROLFE.
McCartney's attempt to locate details about everyone in the colony prior to 1635 sheds new light on fascinating realities about some individuals and why they came to Virginia. Elizabeth GROTTE and Mary HACKETT, for instance, appear to have been poor children rounded up off the streets of London to be sent to Virginia in 1619. Since destitute and vagrant persons incarcerated during that era, perhaps the same circumstances may have applied to Elizabeth GROSSE and Nathaniel GUILD, youngsters brought from prison and detained until they could be shipped to Virginia in 1620.
The entries also highlight the wide diversity of the ancestry of America's early immigrants. Printer Jan LE ROU and cloth weaver Jerome LE ROY and their families, for example, were part of a group of French and Walloons who expressed a willingness to sail to Virginia and received permission from the Virginia Company to go there. In her preface the compiler points out that one immigrant was of Persian (Iranian) or Armenian descent.
Gathering data for a compilation of this type is a daunting task and McCartney is commended for her accomplishment. Her work is especially important because it brings attention to the common people who helped make the struggle to gain an English foothold in America feasible. The most comprehensive collection of annotated sketches of the colony's earliest settlers available, VIRGINIA IMMIGRANTS AND ADVENTURERS, 1607 - 1635: A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY is definitely a book that should be on the shelves of all American genealogical collections.
An attractive dust jacket covers the 833-page hardback. The work includes a six page bibliography of sources and their abbreviations, a glossary, and a full name index. To the book's price of $49.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4 for one book and $2.00 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $6 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #3505) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website www.genealogical.com).