Here is another example of a man who could be lauded as a hero or condemned as a villain. Your choice.

Sam Mathews, born about 1580-1590, was almost a middle-aged man by the time he stepped on Jamestown soil. He had been hired by Robert Johnson, one of the two sheriffs of London in 1618. Sheriffs work included helping the judges of the courts. It was, and is, a very prestigious position, unlike the American sheriff who is head of a county-level law enforcement. Robert Johnson, who started as a grocer, had written advertising pamphlets and booklets for the Virginia Company of London. Politically active and a shareholder in the Virginia Company, he was very concerned about colonization across the Atlantic. Sam Mathews represented Johnson, likely, in going to Virginia and helping establish a “hundred” the year Johnson was sheriff.

A hard-worker, Mathews lived for a while at Jamestown. He moved to Shirley Hundred, one of Lord DeLaWare’s estates, with several  of Johnson’s employees. Shortly after that, Deputy governor Argall (1617-1618) made him a Captain and put him in charge of men at Harryhattock (possibly Henrico?).

Before 1623, Mathews was a member of the House of Burgesses. In 1624, he was nominated as a commissioner for the Mandeville Commission. This was the Privy Council’s investigation into Virginia’s viability as an independent colony, run by a company. He was both on the side of the colonists and on the side of the King, simultaneously. He walked a thin line. But it was of no use. The recommendations were never considered. The contract with the Virginia Company of London was cancelled and Virginia became a royal colony, owned and operated by the king.

Mathews loved Virginia and put money into its development. He earned land through the “head-right” system: fifty acres of land for every person he paid passage for to the colony. By the late 1620s, he was a major landowner, especially in the area east of Jamestown. This is where Newport News and Norfolk, Va stand today.

By 1628, Mathews was an outstanding man in his own right and, now in his late 30s, was ready to marry. He had known Frances Grenville West, a widow, who had married the younger brother of the Lord Delaware. She remarried a man, Abraham Peirsey, said to be the richest man in Jamestown. But he died two or so years later. She was executix of his estate for his two daughters.  It did not take Frances and Samuel to get together. With this marriage came a large estate on the south side of the river, which they renamed Flowerdew. It was to go to the two daughters, one of whom had just married.

Between 1628 and 1633, when Frances died, it is accused, they treated the plantation poorly, moving servants and possessions to Mathews new place, which he named Mathew’s Manor. It was a place of hospitality to all. It quickly became an outstanding little town in its own right, partly to the detriment of the two young ladies who lost their inheritance.

Meanwhile, the new governor, Sir John Harvey, who arrived in early 1630, had plans. He wanted to encourage farms with food stuffs, start settling the southern bank of the York River, build a palisade across the peninsula from the James to the York Rivers, a six mile long project, and get on better terms with the Indians. The Governor’s Council, of which Mathews was a member, was not entirely on board. Harvey was not one to negotiate. He handled the Council by being alternately generous and cruel to members.

With Mathews, he offered the man a year  of tax-free shipping of his tobacco. Mathews built up wealth with that year. In return, Mathews built, with colonial backing of over a million pounds of tobacco, a fort at Point Comfort, the eastern-most end of the James River as it emptied into the Chesapeake. Mathews also assisted in building the palisade, which would keep the cows in the English portion of the peninsula and keep the Indians out.

In 1633 and 1634, several things happened to get Mathews into deep trouble with the governor. His wife, Frances, died, leaving him with a toddler and a newborn. With her death, Abraham Piersey’s plantation, Flowerdew, had no executrix. One of the daughters, Mary, and her husband, Thomas Hill sued Mathews. He, having more important things to do, ignored it. The lawsuit and its variants continued for almost five years.

The other problem was the settling of Maryland, which led to skirmishes between the Catholics and Mathews’ friend William Clayborne, who was told that his trading post on Kent Island was no longer in Virginia, but Maryland. Mathews’ love of the English did not extend to Catholics. When Harvey was given orders to help Baltimore’s Catholic settlers in Maryland, Mathews was most insistent that he would not. He threw his hat on the ground and swore. For a year, the governor and the Virginia colonists had a verbal battle going over Harvey not supporting the colonists vs Harvey supporting the king’s wishes.

This all came to a head in late April, 1635, when several men, Francis Pott, Nicholas Martinau and William English, got arrested for complaining about Harvey to a packed house. Harvey called for an emergency meeting of the Council. The majority felt the arrested men had the right to complain. Harvey wanted to jail them and declare martial law. The afternoon ended with Mathews, John Utie, William Pierce, George Menifee and John Pott participating in arresting Harvey for treason and putting him under house arrest. None of their actions were allowed under English law. But they went on to have Harvey impeached and sent him to London to face trial.

Harvey was sent back by the king who ordered Mathews, Utie, Pierce and Menifee sent to London for trial. They waited a year plus in London and the trial was ultimately dismissed.

In the meantime, Governor Harvey allowed the Peirsey daughters to ransack Mathews’ place and take anything they could identify as theirs or their father’s. Harvey married the older sister, Elizabeth, who had been widowed, with young children. She sold her half of the inheritance, land. The younger sister, Mary, could not improve her land and house. It was too far gone.

Mathews, who had married Sarah Hinton in the meantime, brought his little family home from England to a damaged house. He went on to remodel his home and plantation where his boys could grow up safely. Mathews and his wife became a major source of hospitality in the early colony.

He outlived the other three men who went with him to London. He became a Councilor and a representative to London until his death in 1658. And he saw his son, Samuel Jr. become the governor of Virginia in the late 1650s.



In the late 1610s, the Virginia Company realized that they could use the economic downturn in England to their advantage. The men who had turned their backs on England and gone to North America to try their hands at prosperity were tired of only working. Their Christian, European background was slipping away with time. The company acknowledged this. They saw that the Indian maidens were not good partners for the men. They needed women who could guarantee security, permanence and a continuation of European traditions.

Starting in 1619, the company advertised for sensible, honest young ladies to join the men in Virginia and marry if they found someone who could attract them. They were guaranteed no punishment if they did not find a husband. The men, on their side, were obligated to pay the 12 pound sterling, each, that it cost to transport the women, if the company had paid the fee.

One of the many who were willing to voyage over was Anne Jackson, whose father was William Jackson, a gardener of Westminster. She needed to get letters of recommendation from her church and needed her father to give his consent to his daughter’s request. He had a son already living there in the hamlet of Martin’s Hundred. Ann and 56 other women arrived in Jamestown in late 1621. She moved to her brother, John’s, place.

The first few months were probably enjoyable, getting used to the land, her brother’s family and the different weather. However, on Good Friday, March 1622, the outlying farms and hamlets were attacked by Powhatan Indians. Over 300 settlers were killed, including the famous John Rolfe. Anne and eighteen other women were kidnapped.

Over the next eight years, the women were either bought back, returned by negotiation or died. Anne was the last to come home, in 1630. The only way she could have survived is through strength of mind and body, and tenacity. Apparently, she was, by then, at the end of her psychological rope. Such an experience proved to be too much of an impact on her. The court ordered her brother to keep her safe until she could go aboard a ship and return home.

History has lost the rest of her story. We can only hope that some kind Englishman was willing to accept a fragile woman to care for the rest of her life.




Cecily Farrar is considered the first Southern belle, the first to master flirting in Virginia. Needless to say, she was beautiful. She was also quite a good business manager.

Cecily was the daughter of Joan Phippen and Thomas(?) Reynolds, a sea-faring man. Cecily was born in 1600, the same year her father died in a sea disaster. She was his only child.

Joan, only just past 20, remarried William Pierce, an up and coming politically active man and soldier. He soon saw the wisdom of signing up to join the Virginia Company. They had a child, Jane, in 1605. By 1609, William had decided to go to Virginia with the family. Mother, father and Jane left on two separate boats, leaving Cecily behind with relatives, to await orders to come.

Joan and Jane, on one boat, were hit by a hurricane but made it through, landing in August, 1609. William’s ship was damaged, landing in Bermuda with two other ships. It took months to rebuild one ship out of the ruins. He finally made it to a reunion with Joan May 20, 1610, introducing her to his travel mate, John Rolfe.

Cecily finally was called and she arrived in August, 1611, during the Anglo-Powhatan war. She was 11. The war ended in 1614, when John Rolfe married Pocahantas.

In 1618, the governor proclaimed a title of “ancient planter” to anyone who had lived in Virginia for three years and had paid their passage. Each of those planters would receive 100 acres. Cecily met the qualifications. She was only one of four women who did.

In the year 1620, she married Samuel Jordan and moved to his new estate. This was a 450-acre plantation on the James River, which eventually was called Jordan’s Journey. Jordan was considerably older than Cecily. He had a son her age. With the couple lived a little girl named Temperance Bayley, the heiress of the large estate next door. It appears that a Mr. Bayley may have been Cecily’s first husband, dying and leaving her with a baby. We may never know who are the parents of Temperance, but it seems strange for the Jordans to take her in if they had no interest. The next year, the couple welcomed a daughter, Mary.

1622 was a bad one. The surprise attack by the Indians killed a large portion of the population. Jordan’s palisaded fort became a haven for many who were not lucky and lost most of their possessions. One of the men who moved to the compound was William Farrar, a lawyer, who went to work for the couple and built up the plantation.

Right after the first of the year 1623, Samuel died. Cecily was pregnant with her daughter, Margaret. Within days of the funeral, the minister who had presided, Rev. Grenville Pooley, decided that the widow was too good to pass up. He came to visit her and offered her marriage. Having been widowed less than a week, she may not have been interested. She suggested that they not discuss it until after the birth of the baby. He took it as a yes and started to brag around the neighborhood. A few months later, Cecily contracted herself with Mr. Farrar in front of the governor and officials. Pooley sued for breach of promise and this was the start of a two-year law suit. There are witness testimonies extant today, giving credence to her side of the story, that she didn’t mean to get engaged to the minister. Eventually, Pooley found another woman who was acceptable to him and dropped the law suit before it got into court.

Cecily and William Farrar lived on Jordan’s Journey together. In the 1624 muster, they are listed as co-heads of the place. They quickly married as soon as the law suit was over. They had three children, Cecily, William and John. Within a few years, they moved to William’s plantation near Henrico where the younger children grew up.

William died in the mid-1630s. Cecily may have lived on for years, enticing people with her beauty and social skills. But she may not have married again.