Citations:
Captain James Davis, "Relation of a Voyage to Sagadahoc, 1607-1608," Henry S. Burrage compiler, originally The Gorges Society Publication, Vol. IV, Facsimile reprint 1999 by Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, www.heritagebooks.com, pp. 79-98

"The Sagadahoc Colony, comprising The Relation of a Voyage into New England; (Lambeth Ms.)" with an Introduction and Notes, and Edited by The Rev. Henry O. Thayer, A.M., first published in Portland, Maine, 1892, reissued in 1971 by Benmjamin Blom, Inc., New York, NY

Sabino, Popham Colon Reader 1602-2003, edited by Andrew J. Wahll, Paper #24. 1892 Henry Otis Thayer, The Sagadahoc Colony, Gorges Society IV, Benjamin Blom, INc., 1871, pp. 136-153

Captain George Percy's "True Relations," Tyler's Magazine, Vol. III.

John Bennett Boddie, 1938, "17th Century Isle of Wight County, Virginia"; Chapter XXIII, "Captain James Davis of New England and Virginia," originally published Chicago, 1938, Reprinted 1959, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore.

Captain John Smith "Travels & Works of Captain John Smith," editors Edward Rrber & A.G. Bradly (1910)

From William Strachey's "Historie of Travaile Into Virginia Britania," Chapter X, published in "Gorges and The Grant of the Province of Maine," by Henry S. Burrage compiler, Facsimile reprint 1999 by Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, www.heritagebooks.com, pp. 94-98.

John Camden Hotten, "Emigrants Who Went to America, 1600-1700," 1874, lists compiled by John Camden Hotten, republished on CD 2006 by Archive CD Books, ArchiveCDBooksUSA.com

"Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5" Volume One, Families A-F, Fourth Edition; first published in 1956; compiled and edited by John Frederick Dorman, C.G., F.A.S.G., 4th edition 2004, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD in collaboration with the Order of First Families of Virginia

Conway Whittle Sam's "Conquest of Virginia, the Second Attempt" [out of print]

Some Southern Colonial Families, Vol. 3, Davis Family of Virginia and Maryland, published by David Avant, Jr., compilation by Charles Hughes Hamlin, Profes-sional Genealogist, 1989, L'Avant Publishing Co., Tallahasse, Florida (pgs. 205-252)

Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents, Book 1, Nell Marion Nugent, Dietz Printing Co., Richmond, VA, 1934, p. 128.

Order of Descendants of Ancient Planters, 1606-1616, Raleigh, North Carolina, website at: www.ancientplanters.org

"Virginia Magazine," Vol. III.

John Josselyn, Chronol. Observations; Mass. Hist. Coll., 3d Series, Vol. 3, p. 367 found in Thayer's The Sagadahoc Colony, Portland, Maine, 1892.

Vide Life of John Davis, the Navigator, 1550-1605, by C.R. Markham (1890).

I'd like to thank Ralph E. Marquardt, Jr., of Centreville, Maryland, who in 1999 shared his research notes with me about Captain James Davis. Since that time I've done my own research and edited the earlier data extensively, but it gave me a great start. (KSD)

The Davis-Bean Trees    |     home
Captain James Davis, 1580 - 1623
The early settlement of New England & Virginia 

The following account is pieced together from many sources of the life, voyages and expeditions of Captain James Davis throughout the years of the earliest settlement of New England and Virginia before the Pilgrims arrived in 1620. (Go here to see more about Fort Sagahadoc)

The account begins when he was 27 years old and set sail on 1st June 1607 from Plymouth, England to Virginia, and continues to his death which was often thought to be "at his plantation over the water from James Citte" on  February 16th 1623 -- but I now tend to agree with David Avant's conclusion that he died about ten years later in 1633/4, as you will see when you read through my account.

Captain Davis was a founder and builder of the first English colony in New England (Sagadahoc, Maine) which was considered to be a northern Virginia colony in those days. After the remaining members of that colony gave up and returned in discouragement to England in 1609, he sailed for the southern Virginia colony where he became one its earliest settlers, one of the "ancient planters." Boddie says that "his [Capt. James Davis'] descendants in the South can claim to be the oldest New England family, ante dating the Mayflower by 13 years!"

London, 1606, King James Grants Charters to Colonize Virginia

Boddie writes:

"King James I on the 10th of April 1606 granted charters for two companies to colonize Virginia.  Strachey in his "Historie of Travaile Into Virginia," says that "one consisted of divers knights, gentlemen, merchants, and others of the City of London, called the First Colony (the London Company) and the other of sundry knights, gentlement, and others of the City of Bristoll, Exeter, and the towne of Plymouth and other places, called the Second Colonye (the Plymouth Company)."

"Sir John Popham, Lord Chief Justice of England, had obtained the charter to colonize nothern Virginia for the Second Colony and in 1606 sent out a ship under Captain Henry Callons, containing 100 or more persons.  This ship was captured by the Spanish and the persons taken to Spain and "made slaves in their galleons."

Strachey says "Howbeyt, the aforesaid late Lord Chief Justice would not for all this Spanish mischief give over his determinacion for establishing a colony within the aforesaid so goodly a country, upon the river of Sachadehoc; but againe the next yeare prepared a greater number of planters, and better provisions, which in two shipps he sent forth."

The Voyage from England to Sagahadoc, Maine in 1607

The "two shipps sent forth" by Sir John Popham were the "Gift of God" commanded by Capt. George Popham and the "Mary and John" by Captain Raleigh Gilbert. (Capt. Raleigh Gilbert was a son of Sir Humphrey Gilbert who lost his life in the "Squirrel" on the voyage to Newfoundland in 1583.)

Captain James Davis was master of the "Mary and John" and he wrote an account of the voyage called "The Relation of a voyage unto New England begun from the Lizard, ye first of June 1607." Note: The author of this Ms. is not shown, his name being left blank on the title page, but The Rev. Henry Otis Thayer in his account of the Sagadahoc Colony (p. 19) gives his reason for believing that the author of "The Relation" was Captain James Davis, which seems conclusive.

Mr. Thayer further says, "both James and Robert Davis were assigned to office in the colony administration.  It must be that the two under the designations of 'Captain Davies and Master Davies' were officers in command of the 'Virginia' in a voyage in 1609, to the Southern Colony.  In the next year, Captain James Davis is reported from there in command of Algernon Fort at Point Comfort.  Robert Davis of Bristol, had been master of Sir Walter Raleigh's vessel, the barke 'Rawley' which sailed in Sir Humfrey Gilbert's expedition of 1583.  Mr. Thayer noted that Captain John Smith mentions "among those noble captains" connected with the planting of Sasgahadoc, were "Robert Davis, James Davis and John Davis."  And further he, Rev. Thayer, writes that "Josselyn reports three successive voyages to the Northwest by Captain John Davis, in 1585-6-7." And then it is Mr. Thayer who wrote that "a family of master mariners seems to be indicated." Note: I have noted elsewhere that I have just recently (2007) discovered what was the correct quote and believe that many have assumed Captain John Smith was the one to comment on the "family of master mariners," seeming to imply and assumed by many that Robert, James and John Davis were brothers or related in some way, and that all were together at Sagadahoc. On reading it as originally written by Mr. Thayer in his book, one sees quite clearly that Thayer is the one who made that specific comment, and also when seeing that the John Davis being referred to here was John Davis the Navigator who died in 1605, it may be possible that they were related in some way, but there's so far no proof of this, and aside from this comment there is no mention or proof that a John Davis was connected to Sagadahoc at this time.

Monday, 1st June 1607 - Departure from Plymouth, England

Capt. James Davis, in his "Relation" says, "Departed from the Lyzard [Plymouth, England] the first day of June 1607, being Monday about 6 of the clock in the afternoon and it bore me then northeast by north eight leagues.

"From thence directed our course for the Islands of Flores and Corvo (Azores) in the which we were 24 days attaining all of which time we never saw but one saile, being a ship of Salcombe (Village of Devonshire) bound for Newfoundland. The first day of July being Wednesday we departed from the Island of Flores for ten leagues S. W. of it.  From hence we kept our course to the westward until the 27th of July during which time we oftentimes sounded but never found grounds until the 27th day of July early in the morning we sounded and had ground in 18 Fathoms, beinge then in latitude 43 degrees 40' fished three hours and tooke near two hundred of Cods, very great and large fyshe, bigger than which comes to the Banke of Newfoundland (They passed some twenty miles S. W. of Sable Island.)

"From this point the course was set S. W."  James Davis evidently was navigating the ship for he says "6th of August I found the ship to be in 43 d and 1/2 by my observation and from thense seth our course and stood away due weste and saw three other islands."

Wednesday, 19th Auguste 1607 -- Arrival in Maine

"Wednesday being the 19th Auguste we all went to the shore where we made choice for our plantation and there we had a sermon delivered in by our preacher."

19 Aug 1607 - Established Fort at mouth of Kennebec River in Maine.  The colony was called the "Sagadahoc Colony."  This colony preceded the "Mayflower" landing at Plymouth, Mass. by 13 years.

Captain John Smith says the officers of this colony by "That honorable patron of virtue Sir John Popham were:  Captain George Popham for president.  Captain Raleigh Gilbert for admiral.  Edward Harlow, Master of the Ordinance, Captain Robert Davis, Sergeant Major, Captain Ellis Bert, Marshall, Mr. Leaman, Secretary, Captain James Davis, to be Captain of the Fort, Mr. Gome Carew to be searcher, all these were of the Counsel."  The preacher was Richard Seymour.

John Bennett Boiddie also says: "Captain James Davis was Commander of the Fort extablished at the mouth of the Kennebec River, August 19, 1607 (o.s.) by that New England Colony called the "Sagadahoc Colony. After that colony returned to England, Captain Davis sailed for Virginia."

6 October 1607 -- Return to England

6 October 1607, James Davis sailed for England as Captain of the "Mary and John". His narrative in "Relation" suspends on the 6th of October 1607 and Mr. Thayer concludes from this that it was because James Davis sailed away for England. This vessel arrived in England December 1st after a voyage of 53 days.  A plan of Fort St. George at Sagadahoc inscribed "taken out on the 8th of October 1607" was found in later years with the narrative.

The "Gift" also sailed from Sagadahoc Colony to England on 15 Dec 1607 and arrived at Plymouth 7 February 1608.  These ships on arriving found that Sir John Popham (President) The Chief Justice, had died 10 Jun 1607, ten days after they had sailed away from England to Northern Virginia.

After these ships had left Sagadohoc, the last one carrying 45 persons who wished to return to England, the settlers who remained Began to build a ship with their limited means in the winter time in this bleak country and when this ship was finished, they called it the "Virginia" and it seems to have been a staunch trust-worthy vessel.

May 1608 Return to Sagadahoc

Captain James Davis again set sail for Sagadahoc and arrived, it is supposed, about the month of May 1608.  He found the colonists had been through a severe winter.  George Popham, the first president, had died, and Raleigh Gilbert was now the president.  Sir John Gilbert, eldest son of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and the brother of Raleigh Gilbert, had also died in England and left his estate to his brother Raleigh Gilbert to settle.  Raleigh Gilbert desired to return to England to settle his brothers estate and the experience the colonists had been through, determined them to abandon the enterprise before the coming of another winter.

17 October 1608 The Colony Gives Up & Returns to England

In the newly arrived ship, and in the "Virginia" which they had built (of which Captain James Davis was aboard), they embarked for England 17 Oct 1608, and the colony  in North Virginia, on the River Sagadahoc came to an end.

In his "Conquest of Virginia, the Second Attempt," p. 567, Sams says:

"The failure of this Northern Colony is to be regretted. Had it succeeded, the United States would have been settled by two companies, organized under the same Charter, sympathetic with each other, and sympathetic with England. The failure of this colony in the North, left that region to be settled, some years later, by another Colony, the Pilgrims, who were not in sympathy with England, while the southern Colony on the other hand, was typically English."

Captain Davis Returns to Virginia from England in 1609

Apparently undaunted, Captain James Davis again sailed for Virginia on the "Virginia" on June 8th 1609 from Falmouth, England, the largest fleet ever sent over to Virginia, full of people and provisions. He, James Davis, was in command of the "Virginia" one of nine vessels of the fleet known as the "Third Supply" which assembled at Falmouth and proceeded to Virginia by way of the Azores.  It carried with it the new Charter of the Virginia Company, which had been drafted by Sir Francis Bacon and signed by King James I on May 23, 1609, granting a vast extension of territory and larger powers were given to the Company. Sams says (p. 579) "It was a force strong enough to put the Colony on its feet, had not misfortune awaited it."

After passing the Canary Islands the fleet encountered a great hurricane.  The vessels were scattered and the "Virginia" arrived among the last. The ship the "Sea Adventure" carrying the fleet commanders, Sir James Somers and Sir Thomas Gates, was wrecked on Somers Island, now called Bermuda. The "Catch" one of the vessels, foundered with all on board.

The ships of the Third Supply and their Captains were as follows:

"Unite" - Captain Wood - Departed England 8 (18)Jun1609 and arrived Jamestown, Virginia 21 Aug 1609.

"Blessing" - Captain Gabriel Archer - Departed England 8 (18) Jun 1609 arrived Jamestown, Virginia 21 Aug 1609.

"Lion" - Captain Webb - Departed England 8 (18) Jun 1609 and arrived Jamestown, Virginia 21 Aug 1609.

"Falcon" - Captain John Martin - Departed England 8 (18) Jun 1609 and arrived Jamestown, Virginia 21 Aug 1609.

"Diamond" - Captains Ratcliffe and King - Departed England 8 (18) Jun 1609 and arrived Jamestown, Virginia Aug 1609.

"Swallow" - Captain Moone - Departed England 8 (18)Jun 1609 and arrived Jamestown, Virginia Aug 1609.

"Catch" - Master Matthew Fitch - Departed England 8 (18) Jun 1609 and was lost at sea with all aboard.

"Virginia" - Captain James Davis - Departed England 8 (18) Jun 1609 and arrived Jamestown, Virginia 3 Oct 1609.

"Sea Adventure" - Captain Christopher - With Sir Thomas Gates and Sir James Somers on board with the new Charter of the Virginia, Company, which had been drafted by Sir Francis Bacon and signed by King James I on May 23 1609.  This ship wrecked on Bermuda during hurricane.  The "Deliverance" and "Patience" were built from the wreck of "Sea Adventure" and these two ships then left Bermuda 20 May 1610 bound for Jamestown, Virginia and arrived there May 1610.

There were two factions at this time opposing one another in the Virginia Company of London, and the Smith faction apparently did not receive this fleet with any great joy.  This may account for the fact that Captain Percy, the Governor, mentions Captain James Davis very frequently in his "True Relation" whereas the Smith faction mentions him very little.

Sams quotes first from the writers belonging to the Smith faction as follows: (p. 688)

"The first incident recorded is the arrival of the 'Virginia,' which had formed one of the great fleet of nine which left England on the eighth of June 1609.  It was October when she at last reached her destination, as the 'Catch,' one of the vessels, was known to have foundered with all on Board, the arrival of the 'Virginia' left only the 'Sea Adventure,' the most important of all still to be accounted for.  They thought she was certainly lost.

"The rather unimportant way the arrival of the 'Virginia' is recorded was probably due to the fact that the Smith faction looked upon all these vessels and their crews with little sympathy.  There is no note of rejoicing over this sheep which was lost, being now found alive and safe; they merely say:  'The day before the ships departed, C. Davies arrived in a small pinnance with some sixteen proper men more.'  To these were added a company from James Town, under the command of Captain Ratcliffe, to inhabit Point Comfort.  Martin and Master West having lost their boats, and near half their men amongst savages, were returned to James Town.  For the savages no sooner understood of Captain's Smith's loss, but they all revolted, and did murder and spoil all they could encounter.  Nor were we all constrained to leave only of that which Smith had only for his own company for the rest had consumed their proportions."

Fort Algernon, The Luckless Captain Ratcliffe & The Indians

Captain John Ratcliffe was Commander of the "Discovery," one of the three ships which came over with the first colonists to Jamestown.  He is often referred to in narratives of those times as the "Luckless and Ill-fated Captain Ratcliffe."  It seems that Captain Ratcliffe commanded the fort at Point Comfort called "Fort Algernon," a favorite Christian name in the family of Percy, Earls of Northumberland.  The Luckless Captain Ratcliffe was killed by the Indians, and Captain James Davis succeeded him as Commander of the fort.

Note:  Robert Davis, who may or may not have been a brother of James Davis, sailed to North Virginia with Captain James Davis and was one of the councilors for the North Virginia Colony (Brown's "First Republic," p. 16).  He was also Master of "The Virginia" when this vessel arrived at Jamestown in 1609.

Captain Percy's account of this in his "True Relation" is as follows (Tyler's Magazine, Vol. III, p. 266):

" I sent Captain Ratcliffe to Powhatan to secure victals and corne by way of commerce and trade, but Powhatan, the sly old king at a fittinge time surprised Captain Ratcliffe whom he caused to be bound to a tree naked with a fire afore him and by women his flesh was scraped from his bones, with muscel shells and before his face thrown into the fire wherefrom he miserably perished.

"Captain William Phetiplace who remained in the pinnace escaped with only sixteen men out of fifty.

The Starving Time 1609/1610

Captain Percy's account continues:

"Upon wch defeate I sentt Capte James Davis to Algernowe foarte to comanwnd there in Capts. Ratliefes place and Capte West I sent to Potoamack with aboutt thirty sixe men to trade for maize and grayne where he in short tyme loaded his pinesse sufficyently yett used some harshe and crewell dealinge by cutteinge of two of the savages heads and other extermetyes and [when they left they came by] comeinge by Algernowns foarte Capteine Davis did call unto them acquaintinge them with our Great wants [they were starving] exhortinge them to make all the speded they cowlde to Releve us upon wch reporte Capte: Weste by the persuasive or rather by the inforcement of his company hoisted upp Sayles and shaped their course directly for England and lefte us in that extreme misery and wante."

Captain Percy during "Starving Time" nearly died of starvation along with the others but during this "Starving Time" he undertook a trip to Fort Algernon, and of this trip he says (p. 268):

"By this Tyme being Reasonable well recovered of my sickness I did undertake a jorney unto Algernowns foarte bothe to understand how things weare there ordered as also to have bene Revenged of the Salvages att Kekowhatan who had treacherously slayne dyvers of our men.  Our people I fownd in good care and well lykenge haveinge concealed their plenty from us above att James Towne.

"Beinge so well stored thatt the Crabb fishes where-with they had fede their hoggs would have bene a greate relefe unto us and saved many of our Lyves But their intente was for to have kept some of the better sorte alyve and with their towe pinnesses to have Retourned for England nott Regardinge our miseries and wants at all; wherewith I taxed Capt: Davis and tolde him thatt I had a full intente to bringe halfe of our men from James Towne to be there releved and after to Retoourne them backe ageine and bringe the reste to be susteyned there also and if all this woulde nott serve to save our mens Lyves I purposed to bring them all unto Algernowns foarte Tellinge Capt: Davis that another towne or foarte mighte be erected and buylded butt mens lyves once Loste colde never be recovered."

These Virginia Colonists became discouraged.  Only 60 men were left out of 500 and they decided to embark for England, Captain Davis again commanded his old ship the "Virginia."

August 1610 Expedition Against the Indians

Percy's account of this proposed return is as follows (p. 270):

"Then all of us embarking ourselves, Sir Thomas Gates in the "Deliverance" with his company, Sir George Somers in the "Patience", Percy in the Discoverie (Discovery), and Captain James Davis in the "Virginia."  All of us sailing down the river with full intent to have proceeded upon our voyage for England when suddenly we spied a boat making toward us wherein we found Captain Bruster sent from my Lorde La Ware (Lord Deleware) who was come unto us with many gentlemen of quality, and three hundred men besides great store of victewles municyon and other privisions whereupon all returned to Jamestown."

Captain James Davis was sent soon thereafter on an expedition against the Indians and concerning this expedition Percy says (p. 273):

"Their sayleigne some two myles down the River I sent Capt. Davis A shoare with moste of my Sowldiers, myselfe being wearyed before and for my owne part, but an easie foote man was Capt: Davis.  At his landeinge, he was approached by some Indyans who spared nott to send their arrowes Amongste our men but within A shorte Tyme he putt them to flighte and landed withoutt further opposityon marcheinge About fowrtene myles into the country cutt downe their corne, burned their howses, Temples and Idolles and amongste the reste A Spacyous Temple cleane and neattly keptt A thinge strange and seldome sene amongste the Indyans in those partes.  So havinge performed all the spoyle he cowulde Retourned aboarde to me ageine and then we sayled downe the River to James Towne.

"My Lord Generall not forgetting old Powhatan subtell treacery sent a messanger unto him to demand certain Armies and Dyvrs men who we supposed might be living in his country but he returned no other then proud and distainfull answers.  Whereupon my Lorde being much incensed caused a commission to be drawn wherein he appointed me Chief Commander over seventy men and sent me to take revenge upon the Paspaheans and Chiconamians and so shipping myself and my soldgiers in two boats I departed from James Town the 9th of August 1610 and the same night landed within three miles of Paspahas town then drawing my soldiers into Battalio placing a Captain or Lieutentant at every file we marched towards the town having an Indian guide with me named "Kempes" whom the Provoste Marshall led in a hand lock.  This subtell savage leading us out of the way I bastinaded him with my truncheon and threatened to cut off his head whereupon the slave altered his course and brought us the right way near unto the town so that then I commanded every leader to draw away his file before me to beset the savages houses that none might escape with a charge not to give the alarm until I were come up unto them with the colors.  At my command I appointed Captain William West to give the alarm the which he performed by shooting of a pistol.  And then we fell in upon them put 15 or 16 to the sword and almost all the rest to flight, whereupon I caused my drum to beat and drew all my soldiers to the Colors. My Lieutentant bringing with him the Queen and her children and one indian prisoner for the which I taxed him because he had spared them his answer was that having them now in my custody I might do with them what I pleased.

"Upon the same I caused the indians heads to be cut off.  And then dispensed my files appointing my soldiers to burn their houses and to cut down their corn growing about the town, and after we marched with the Queen and her children to our boats again, where being no sooner well shipped my soldiers did begin to murmur because the Queen and children were spared.  So upon the same council being called it was agreed upon to put the children to death the which was affected by throwing them overboard and shooting out their brains in the water yet for all this cruelty the soldiers were not pleased and I had much to do to save the Queens life for that time.

"My Lord General not being well did lie a shipboard to whom we rowed, he being joyfull of our safe return yet seemed to be discontent because the Queen was spared as Captain Davis told me and that it was my Lords pleasure that we should see her dispatched.  The way he thought best to burn her.  To the first I replied that having seen so much bloodshed that day now in my cold blood I desired to see no more and for to burn her I did no hold fitting but either by shot or sword to give he a quicker dispatch.  So turning myself from Captain Davis he did take the Queen with two soldiers ashore and in the woods put her to the sword and although Captain Davis told me it was my Lords (Delaware) direction yet I am persuaded to the contrary."

An explanation of the above quotations from Percy's "True Relation" might be made by saying that Captain James Davis was in command of Fort Algernon on May 31, 1610 and Govenor Gates decided to abandon the colony and sent the "Virginia" to Point Comfort to take on Captain Davis and his men at Fort Algernon, and while they were in the James River preparing to leave, Lord Delaware came into the river 15 Jun 1610 with three ships (Brown, pp. 126, 128).  Lord Delaware was the new govenor appointed to succeed Govenor Gates.

Fort Algernon May 1611 to Henrico 1616

We next find mention of Captain Davis when Sir Thomas Dale arrived 22 May 1611 and found Davis in command at Fort Algernon (Brown, p. 149).  The two forts, Henry and Charles, which were located on the capes bearing those names, had been abandoned and Sir Thomas Dale ordered Captain Davis to repossess them and put him in command of all three forts.

On 27 June 1611 some Spanish vessels arrived opposite Fort Algernon and according to Brown (p. 152) requested the surrender of Captain Davis.  Davis said to the Spaniards "Go to the Devil."  In Captain George Percy's account of this (Tyler III, p. 278), it seems that when the Spaniards came to the fort, Captain Davis lay in ambush on the shore and when they came ashore he captured their leader Diego Malina and some of his men.  After parleying with the spaniards about their leader, he gave them a pilot to sail to James Town, but when the pilot arrived on board, they hoisted sail and went out to the ocean, leaving their leader in Davis's hands.

Captain Percy says that Fort Algernon burned to the ground and "whereupon Captain Davis fearinge to receive some displeasure and to be removed from thence the same being the most plentifulleste place for food, he used such expedition in rebuilding of the same again that it was almost incredible."

This is about the end of Captain Percy's "True Relation" as he sailed on his return trip to England in 1612, so Captain Davis' activities after that time did not receive very much mention.  However, at the close of Dale's administration in 1616, Captain James Davis had command of the colonists in Henrico (Va. Mag., Vol. III, p. 411).

Brown (p. 228) says that Captain Smaley commanded at Henrico the latter part of 1616 in the absence of Captain James Davis, who may have gone on an expedition against the Indians or have made a trip to England.

James City, Virginia 1623 - 1633 & the Question of Captain James Davis' Death Date

It has often been noted that Captain James Davis died in Virginia, "at his plantation over the water from James Citte," February 16, 1623, possibly killed by the Indians as there is a James Davis in the Muster lists of the living and dead (Hotten, p. 236).

David Avant disagrees with this (see Southern Colonial Families, p. 215) for numerous reasons. For example, he notes that the James Davis listed "among the dead" does not have the title of Captain or Gent. and that the last record of Captain Davis showed he was in command of the colonists at Henrico and was, therefore, not living "over the water" but on the north side of the James River. Avant believes that Captain James Davis, his wife Rachel, and their son Thomas, were on a trip back to England at the time of the Musters of the Living and Dead in 1624/5, and, therefore, were not listed. The patent of 6 March 1633 to his son Thomas of Warwicksqueaiak in which Thomas was named heir apparent to "James Davis, Gent., late of Henrico in Virginia, deceased. . . .100 acres in right of his father, an Ancient Planter," (Virginia Land Patents, Book 1, p. 128) seems to support the evidence that the James Davis listed as dead in 1624/5 was not our Captain James Davis. Also, both Captain James and his wife Rachel are listed as "Ancient Planters" which are those people who arrived in Virginia between 1606 and 1616 and remained for a period of at least three years; they also must have paid their own passage and survived the massacre of 1622. The Ancient Planters then received the "first patents of land in the new world as authorized by Sir Thomas Dale in 1618 for their personal adventure." It's pretty clear from all the information on Captain James Davis that he was most likely living in Henrico, Virginia from about 1609, and on one of his many trips back and forth to England he brought Rachel and his son Thomas back to Virginia with him. Therefore, Avant believes that Captain James and his family returned to Virginia from their 1624/5 trip to England, and most probably about 10 years later Captain James died, some time closer to but before 1633/4.

Copyright 1998 - 2009 by Kerry S. Davis
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