Descendant of Pocahontas?



You just might be part of some of the 100,000 people who claim to be descendants of Pocahontas through the Thomas Rolfe bloodline. Pocahontas, a Native Indian, was born about 1596 in what would later be the Virginia colony of Jamestown. She is the main character in the story of saving Jamestown citizen John Smith from being killed by her father, Chief Powhatan. There is a new educational, outreach program, called the Pocahontas Descendants Initiative, to locate the thousands of Pocahontas’ descendants.

Building on the growing interest in genealogy and “finding one’s roots,” the initiative will share information with those who are descendants of Pocahontas or who are attempting to determine if they are descendants. In Gloucester County in Virginia and the Pocahontas Project of Replenish Richmond will work together on the initiative. Other partners, politicians, supporting organizations, including Ancestry.com, and individuals are invited to become involved. The initiative will include hosting special events, maintaining a dedicated website, producing publications, providing genealogy and ancestry information and resources, and more as the initiative develops.

It was the Gloucester, Virginia region that has a unique relationship with Pocahontas and her father Chief Powhatan. Gloucester is also home to the Pocahontas Museum and a statue of Pocahontas, dedicated in 1994 and part of Gloucester’s effort to honor her legacy.

In 1613 when there was fighting between the English and Indians at Jamestown, Pocahontas was captured by the English. When released she choose to remain with the English, converted to Christianity and selected the given name of Rebecca. She married on April 5, 1614, at the age of 17, to a local tobacco planter, a widower, John Rolfe and on January 30, 1615, she bore their son, Thomas Rolfe at the Rolfe’s Varina Farms across the James River.

The couple and their son traveled to London, England in mid-1616 and were well received. They lived later in Middlesex and then Norfolk counties. In March 1617 the family headed back to Virginia but had to stop Gravesend on the River Thames because Pocahontas had become quite ill. She died within a short time, possibly from smallpox, tuberculosis or pneumonia. She was buried at Saint George’s cemetery in Gravesend.

Their son, Thomas, was too young and weak to make the journey to Virginia so he was adopted by Sir Lewis Stukley to remain in England and then raised by his uncle, Henry Rolfe. John Rolfe did return to Virginia and he married Jane Pierce in 1619. Rolfe died in 1622 in Virginia.

Pochontas’ son, Thomas returned to Virginia as an adult in 1635. He married Jane Pythress and they had a daughter, Jane. Thomas lived until April 16, 1680, dying in the Virginia Colony.

So check some of your lineages especially from early Virginia colony and see if there is a tie-in.

Photos: John Rolfe and Pochontas (drawn years later) and portrait of Rebecca Rolfe in England.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Ye Ole Virginia

Pilgrims’ Ships

Native Indians

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