Happy 400th Anniversary: Pocahontas and John Rolfe

Anton Hohenstein. Published by Joseph Hoover in Philadelphia, c1867.

Anton Hohenstein. Published by Joseph Hoover in Philadelphia, c1867.

On this day in 1614, Pocahontas married John Rolfe.

No, she didn’t marry John Smith, regardless of what Disney told you (and just where the heck in Eastern Virginia ARE those waterfalls?) But, I digress.

During the First Anglo-Powhatan War, Pocahontas was captured and held at Henricus while her captors demanded release of English prisoners. Powhatan returned the prisoners but not the asked for weapons and tools that had been stolen. Pocahontas was kept in captivity.

While at Henricus, Pocahontas was introduced to Christianity and the English language. She received Christian baptism and took the name Rebecca.

During another altercation, Pocahontas told members of the Powhatan tribe that she preferred to remain with the English. Perhaps this is the first recorded occurrence of Stockholm syndrome.

It was during her time at Henricus that Pocahontas married John Rolfe on April 5, 1614. Their wedding took place in Jamestown and they lived for two years on Rolfe’s plantation, Varina Farms, across the James River from Henricus.

In 1616, John Rolfe and Pocahontas traveled to England. They were to return to Virginia in 1617, but Pocahontas took ill aboard ship. She died at the age of twenty-two.

The Rolfes had one child, Thomas Rolfe born before his parents left for England. Descenants include Admiral Richard Byrd, Virginia Governor Harry F. Byrd, and Nancy Reagan.

And…this scene never happened…


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