On the Popham Colony by Ferdinando Gorges

Ferdinando Gorges (1566-1647) was one of the investors in the Plymouth Company.  He was later granted a large land grant for most of New England, but Charles I also granted conflicting charters to the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Companies.  This note about the Popham Colony was written late in his life and published in 1658.

By the same authority all things fully agreed upon between both the colonies, the Lord Chief Justice, his friends and associates of the West country, sent from Plymouth Captain Popham as President for that employment, with Captain Rawley Gilbert, and divers other gentlemen of note, in three sail of ships, 154 with one hundred landmen , for the seizing such a place as they were directed unto by the Council of that colony ; who departed from the coast of England the one-and-thirtieth day of May , anno 1607, and arrived at their rendezvous the 8th of August following. As soon as the President had taken notice of the place, and given order for landing the provisions, he dispatched away Captain Gilbert, with Skitwarres his guide, for the thorough discovery of the rivers and habitations of the natives; by whom he was brought to several of them, where he found civil entertainment and kind respects, far from brutish or savage natures, so as they suddenly became familiar friends; especially by the means of Dehamda, and Skitwarres, who had been in England, Dehamda being sent by the Lord Chief Justice with Captain Prin, and Skitwarres by me in company; so as the President was earnestly entreated by Sassenow , Aberemet, and others the principal sagamores (as they call their great lords ) to go to the Bashabas, who it seems was their king, and held a state agreeable, expecting that all strangers should have their address to him, not he to them.

To whom the President would have gone after several invitations, but was hindered by cross winds and foul weather, so as he was forced to return back without making good what he had promised, much to the grief of those sagamores that were to attend him. The Bashabas notwithstanding, hearing of his misfortune, sent his own son to visit him, and to beat a trade with him for furs. How it succeeded, I could not understand, for that the ships were to be dispatched away for England, the winter being already come, for it was the 15th day of December before they set sail to return; 55 who brought with them the success of what had passed in that employment, which so soon as it came to the Lord Chief Justice’s hands, he gave out order to the Council for sending them back with supplies necessary. The supplies being furnished and all things ready, only attending for a fair wind, which happened not before the news of the Chief Justice’s death was posted to them to be transported to the discomfort of the poor planters; but the ships arriving there in good time, was a great refreshing to those that had had their storehouse and most of their provisions burnt the winter before.

Besides that, they were strangely perplexed with the great and unseasonable cold they suffered, with that extremity as the like hath not been heard of since, and it seems was universal, it being the same year that our Thames was so locked up that they built their boats upon it, and sold provisions of several sorts to those that delighted in the novelties of the times. But the miseries they had passed were nothing to that they suffered by the disastrous news they received of the death of the Lord Chief Justice, that suddenly followed the death of their President; but the latter was not so strange, in that he was well stricken in years before he went, and had long been an infirm man . Howsoever heartened by hopes, willing he was to die in acting something that might be serviceable to God and honorable to his country. But that of the death of the Chief Justice was such a corrosive to all, as struck them with despair of future remedy,  and it was the more augmented  when they heard of the death of Sir John Gilbert, elder brother of Rawley Gilbert that was then their President, a man worthy to be beloved of them all for his industry and care for their well-being. The President was to return to settle the state his brother had left him; upon which all resolved to quit the place, and with one consent to away, by which means all our former hopes were frozen to death; though Sir Francis Popham could not so give it over, but continued to send thither several years after in hope of better fortunes, but found it fruitless, and was necessitated at last to sit down with the loss he had already undergone.

Although I were interested in all these misfortunes, and found it wholly given over by the body of the adventurers, as well for that they had lost the principal support of the design, as also that the country itself was branded by the return of the Plantation, as being over cold, and in respect of that not habitable by our nation. Besides, they understood it to be a task too great for particular persons to undertake, though the country itself, the rivers, havens, harbors upon that coast might in time prove profitable to us.