List Of Contents | Contents of Captain John Smith by, Charles Dudley Warner
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A severe loss to the colony was the death on the 22d of August of
Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, one of the Council, a brave and
adventurous mariner, and, says Wingfield, a "worthy and religious
gentleman."  He was honorably buried, "having all the ordnance in the
fort shot off with many volleys of small shot."  If the Indians had
known that those volleys signified the mortality of their comrades,
the colony would no doubt have been cut off entirely.  It is a
melancholy picture, this disheartened and half-famished band of men
quarreling among themselves; the occupation of the half-dozen able
men was nursing the sick and digging graves.  We anticipate here by
saying, on the authority of a contemporary manuscript in the State
Paper office, that when Captain Newport arrived with the first supply
in January, 1608, "he found the colony consisting of no more than
forty persons; of those, ten only able men."

After the death of Gosnold, Captain Kendall was deposed from the
Council and put in prison for sowing discord between the President
and Council, says Wingfield; for heinous matters which were proved
against him, says Percy; for "divers reasons," says Smith, who
sympathized with his dislike of Wingfield.  The colony was in very
low estate at this time, and was only saved from famine by the
providential good-will of the Indians, who brought them corn half
ripe, and presently meat and fruit in abundance.

On the 7th of September the chief Paspahegh gave a token of peace by
returning a white boy who had run away from camp, and other runaways
were returned by other chiefs, who reported that they had been well
used in their absence.  By these returns Mr. Wingfield was convinced
that the Indians were not cannibals, as Smith believed.

On the 10th of September Mr. Wingfield was deposed from the
presidency and the Council, and Captain John Ratcliffe was elected
President.  Concerning the deposition there has been much dispute;
but the accounts of it by Captain Smith and his friends, so long
accepted as the truth, must be modified by Mr. Wingfield's "Discourse
of Virginia," more recently come to light, which is, in a sense, a
defense of his conduct.

In his " True Relation" Captain Smith is content to say that "Captain
Wingfield, having ordered the affairs in such sort that he was hated
of them all, in which respect he was with one accord deposed from the

In the "General Historie" the charges against him, which we have
already quoted, are extended, and a new one is added, that is, a
purpose of deserting the colony in the pinnace: "the rest seeing the
President's projects to escape these miseries in our pinnace by
flight (who all this time had neither felt want nor sickness), so
moved our dead spirits we deposed him."

In the scarcity of food and the deplorable sickness and death, it was
inevitable that extreme dissatisfaction should be felt with the
responsible head.  Wingfield was accused of keeping the best of the
supplies to himself.  The commonalty may have believed this.  Smith
himself must have known that the supplies were limited, but have been
willing to take advantage of this charge to depose the President, who
was clearly in many ways incompetent for his trying position.  It
appears by Mr. Wingfield's statement that the supply left with the
colony was very scant, a store that would only last thirteen weeks
and a half, and prudence in the distribution of it, in the
uncertainty of Newport's return, was a necessity.  Whether Wingfield
used the delicacies himself is a question which cannot be settled.
In his defense, in all we read of him, except that written by Smith
and his friends, he seems to be a temperate and just man, little
qualified to control the bold spirits about him.

As early as July, "in his sickness time, the President did easily
fortell his own deposing from his command," so much did he differ
from the Council in the management of the colony.  Under date of
September 7th he says that the Council demanded a larger allowance
for themselves and for some of the sick, their favorites, which he
declined to give without their warrants as councilors.  Captain
Martin of the Council was till then ignorant that only store for
thirteen and a half weeks was in the hands of the Cape Merchant, or
treasurer, who was at that time Mr. Thomas Studley.  Upon a
representation to the Council of the lowness of the stores, and the
length of time that must elapse before the harvest of grain, they
declined to enlarge the allowance, and even ordered that every meal
of fish or flesh should excuse the allowance of porridge.  Mr.
Wingfield goes on to say: "Nor was the common store of oyle, vinegar,
sack, and aquavite all spent, saving two gallons of each: the sack
reserved for the Communion table, the rest for such extremities as
might fall upon us, which the President had only made known to
Captain Gosnold; of which course he liked well.  The vessels wear,
therefore, boonged upp.  When Mr. Gosnold was dead, the President did
acquaint the rest of the Council with the said remnant; but, Lord,
how they then longed for to supp up that little remnant: for they had
now emptied all their own bottles, and all other that they could
smell out."

Shortly after this the Council again importuned the President for
some better allowance for themselves and for the sick.  He protested
his impartiality, showed them that if the portions were distributed
according to their request the colony would soon starve; he still
offered to deliver what they pleased on their warrants, but would not
himself take the responsibility of distributing all the stores, and
when he divined the reason of their impatience he besought them to
bestow the presidency among themselves, and he would be content to
obey as a private.  Meantime the Indians were bringing in supplies of
corn and meat, the men were so improved in health that thirty were
able to work, and provision for three weeks' bread was laid up.

Nevertheless, says Mr. Wingfield, the Council had fully plotted to
depose him.  Of the original seven there remained, besides Mr.
Wingfield, only three in the Council.  Newport was in England,
Gosnold was dead, and Kendall deposed.  Mr. Wingfield charged that
the three--Ratcliffe, Smith, and Martin--forsook the instructions of
his Majesty, and set up a Triumvirate.  At any rate, Wingfield was
forcibly deposed from the Council on the 10th of September.  If the
object had been merely to depose him, there was an easier way, for
Wingfield was ready to resign.  But it appears, by subsequent
proceedings, that they wished to fasten upon him the charge of
embezzlement, the responsibility of the sufferings of the colony, and
to mulct him in fines.  He was arrested, and confined on the pinnace.
Mr. Ratcliffe was made President.

On the 11th of September Mr. Wingfield was brought before the Council
sitting as a court, and heard the charges against him.  They were, as
Mr. Wingfield says, mostly frivolous trifles.  According to his
report they were these:

First, Mister President [Radcliffe] said that I had denied him a
penny whitle, a chicken, a spoonful of beer, and served him with foul
corn; and with that pulled some grain out of a bag, showing it to the

Then starts up Mr. Smith and said that I had told him plainly how he
lied; and that I said, though we were equal here, yet if we were in
England, he [I] would think scorn his man should be my companion.

Mr. Martin followed with: " He reported that I do slack the service
in the colony, and do nothing but tend my pot, spit, and oven; but he
hath starved my son, and denied him a spoonful of beer.  I have
friends in England shall be revenged on him, if ever he come in

Voluminous charges were read against Mr. Wingfield by Mr. Archer, who
had been made by the Council, Recorder of Virginia, the author,
according to Wingfield, of three several mutinies, as "always
hatching of some mutiny in my time."

Mr. Percy sent him word in his prison that witnesses were hired to
testify against him by bribes of cakes and by threats.  If Mr. Percy,
who was a volunteer in this expedition, and a man of high character,
did send this information, it shows that he sympathized with him, and
this is an important piece of testimony to his good character.

Wingfield saw no way of escape from the malice of his accusers, whose
purpose he suspected was to fine him fivefold for all the supplies
whose disposition he could not account for in writing: but he was
finally allowed to appeal to the King for mercy, and recommitted to
the pinnace.  In regard to the charge of embezzlement, Mr. Wingfield
admitted that it was impossible to render a full account: he had no
bill of items from the Cape Merchant when he received the stores, he
had used the stores for trade and gifts with the Indians; Captain
Newport had done the same in his expedition, without giving any
memorandum.  Yet he averred that he never expended the value of these
penny whittles [small pocket-knives] to his private use.

There was a mutinous and riotous spirit on shore, and the Council
professed to think Wingfield's life was in danger.  He says: "In all
these disorders was Mr. Archer a ringleader."  Meantime the Indians
continued to bring in supplies, and the Council traded up and down
the river for corn, and for this energy Mr. Wingfield gives credit to
"Mr. Smith especially," " which relieved the colony well."  To the
report that was brought him that he was charged with starving the
colony, he replies with some natural heat and a little show of
petulance, that may be taken as an evidence of weakness, as well as
of sincerity, and exhibiting the undignified nature of all this

"I did alwaises give every man his allowance faithfully, both of
corne, oyle, aquivite, etc., as was by the counsell proportioned:
neyther was it bettered after my tyme, untill, towards th' end of
March, a bisket was allowed to every working man for his breakfast,
by means of the provision brought us by Captn. Newport: as will
appeare hereafter.  It is further said, I did much banquit and

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