||De la Warr, Thomas West, Baron, 1577-1618
||The Relation of the Lord De-La-Ware
||Tyler, Lyon Gardiner (editor). Narratives of Early Virginia, 1606-1625. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907). Pages 207-214.
||10 / 0
Thomas West, the third Lord de La Ware (July 9, 1577-June
7, 1618), served both Queen Elizabeth and King James I as privy
councilor. He was a member of the Virginia Company’s governing
board and in 1610, was appointed the second governor of the
Jamestown Colony. West resided in the colony for one year and
restored order to the colony, which was floundering due to
internal conflicts and dwindling supplies. He was unable to
remain in Virginia due to repeated bouts of illness and returned
to England in 1611. He remained Governor of Jamestown until he
died in 1618 while traveling on a ship attempting to return to
Jamestown Settlement, 1607-1625
In 1606, the London Company received a royal charter from
King James I to organize an expedition and establish colonies in
North America. The Plymouth Company would establish the
short-lived colony in Maine (see AJ-042). The Virginia Company
set up England’s first permanent colony in Jamestown, Virginia.
Their primary goal was profit; investors hoped settlers would
find valuable natural resources, such as lumber, herbs, pitch,
and even gold, to send back to England. However, the English
government also wanted to resist the Spanish colonization of
North America (see AJ-077 for a Spaniard’s account of the
Jamestown colony). One hundred and four men and boys came ashore
in May 1607-no women arrived until the following year. Over the
next three years almost eight hundred settlers would arrive to
colonize the Virginia coasts-six hundred of them arriving in
1609. Unfortunately, Jamestown was not an ideal spot for a
colony. The low marshy land was not healthy, and clean water
could be difficult to find. Attacks by the Powhatan Indians
began shortly after the English colonists built their first fort
at the Jamestown site. Fighting between the English and Indians
continued, despite the settlers’ reliance on the Indians for
corn during the difficult winters. In addition, many of the
settlers were hardly qualified to farm and survive in this
difficult setting. During the first years, mortality was very
high through disease, starvation, and accident.
Captain John Smith was elected president in September 1608
(see AJ-074 and AJ-075). By enforcing strict discipline and
requiring all settlers to farm, he increased the food supply.
However, a serious injury in 1609 forced his return to England.
One of the original settlers, George Percy, (see AJ-073) was
president of the Virginia’s council during the winter of 1609
and 1610, called the “starving time” when only sixty settlers
survived. In June 1610, they decided to abandon the town, but
the arrival of the new governor, Lord de La Ware, and his supply
ships brought the colonists back to the fort. In 1612, the
settlers began to grow tobacco on their plantations-over time,
this successful crop transformed the colony into a successful
venture. John Rolfe, who married Pocahontas (see AJ-079), is
credited with first planting a marketable tobacco in Virginia.
In 1619, the same year Africans were brought into the colony as
slaves, the first representative assembly in North America was
set up-the Virginia Assembly (see AJ-080). In 1624, the Virginia
Company dissolved and Virginia became a royal colony under the
governance of the English Crown.
West wrote to the counsel members of the Virginia Company to
explain why he was unable to remain in Virginia and carry out
his duties as governor. He further detailed the progress of the
colony under his management, which included improvements to the
fort, and continued trade opportunities with the areas Native
American tribes. West ended his report by assuring the counsel
that a profit could be made from the agricultural resources of
the colony. The Relation of Lord De-la-ware was first
published by Stationers’ Hall on July 6, 1611. Additional
publications took place in Captain John Smith’s Generall
Historie (1624), by Griswold (1859 and 1868), and in
Alexander Brown’s Genesis of the United States (1890).
The document shown here is from Tyler, Lyon Gardiner (editor),
Narratives of Early Virginia, 1606-1625 (New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907).
Other Internet and Reference Sources
The Jamestown Rediscovery archeology project website at
http://www.apva.org/jr.html contains historical summaries, a
timeline, biographies, and description of the archeological
findings made at Jamestown.
At the Virtual Jamestown website, you can find a portrait of
George Percy, at
well as other first-hand accounts of the Jamestown settlement
The Public Broadcasting Station website on the history of
Africans in America presents a narrative of the early years of
Virginia’s history and explores the settlers’ difficult
relationship with the Native Americans and the introduction of
black slavery at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/title.html.
A short biography of West can be found at