Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith (1580-1631) by the young age of 24 years already had served with brilliance in the Dutch Wars and in the Near East. He escaped his Turkish captors and returned to England by 1604. While there, he became interested in the newly chartered Virginia Company and made arrangements to be among the first settlers in 1606.

Due to jealousies among the leaders among the first settlers, Smith arrived at Jamestowne in chains. Upon opening the sealed box of instructions from the Virginia Company, Smith learned he was to be a member of the Council of the Colony.

His resourcefulness and energies proved more and more valuable to the colonists, until he was singled out as the leader of all at Jamestowne. He explored the territory in and around Chesapeake Bay, traded with the Indians for food, enforced order and work among the settlers, and probably saved Jamestowne Colony from complete extinction. Time proved his firm actions correct. Of the 500 settlers he left at Jamestowne when he returned to England, late in 1609, only 60 settlers were found alive when the new leaders arrived from Bermuda.

Having quarreled with the Virginia Company, Smith sailed to New England in 1614 and mapped the coast from Penobscot Bay to Cape Cod. In 1615, he again sailed for New England but was forced by violent storms to return to England. For all his hopes for the Plymouth Company, he never saw America again.

Now, almost penniless and living in England, he received a visit from the Princess Pocahontas (Lady Rebecca) and John Rolfe. Captain John Smith spent the remainder of his life writing of his military exploits and adventures. His books are a bit braggy, and former generations have taken a distinct dislike to Captain Smith. However, foreign records, especially those found in Hungarian Archives, have verified his claims. Captain Smith died in London, June, 1631, and was buried in St. Sepulchre's Church. His epitaph is there for all to read.

Epitaph on brass plate on the wall of the sanctuary of the Royal Fusiliers’ Chapel, Church of St. Sepulchre without Newgate, London, England, marking final resting place of Captain John Smith.

Captain John Smith
Sometime Governour of Virginia
and Admiral of New England
who departed this life the 21st of June 1631
Here lyes one conquered, that hath conquered Kings,
Subdu’d large Territories, and done Things
Which to the world impossible would seem
But that the Truth is held in more esteem.
Shall I report his former service done
In honour of his God and Christendom?
How that he did divide from Pagans three
Their heads and lives, Types of his Chivalry?
Or shall I talk of his Adventures Since,
Done in Virginia, that large Continent:
How that he subdu’d Kings unto his yoke,
And made those heathen flee, as wind doth smoke:
And made their land, being of so large a Station
An habitation for our Christian Nation
Our god is glorify’d, their Want supply’d
Which else for Necessaries must have dy’d.
But what avils his Conquests, now he lyes
Interr’d in earth, a Prey to Worms and Flyes?
O may his soul in sweet Elysium sleep,
Until the Keeper that all Souls doth keep,
Return to Judgement, and that after thence,
With angels he may his Recompense

 

Photo (c) Woodmansterne

A DESCRIPTION OF THE WINDOW

by  FRANCIS W. SKEAT, F.R.S.A.,M.G.P.

"The window provides a memorial to one of our most courageous and brave colonists, Captain John Smith, and also to his distinguished and learned biographer, the late Bradford Smith.

The intention was to accompany the figure of Captain Smith with those of two of his most loyal and faithful friends.

Accordingly, a portrait of Robert Bertie, Earl of Lindsey, Lord Willoughby is shown in his Garter Robes and holding a wand as Lord Great Chamberlain, in 1628. He and Captain Smith were neighbors in the County of Lincoln and it was due to Lord Willoughby's help that Smith was able to find a channel for his energy and to realise his ambitions.

Behind Lord Willoughby's figure is part of the Palace of Whitehall as it was at this period and opposite stands the Gateway of St. James Palace.

Captain Smith stands surrounded by a few of the nautical instruments of the time, including the hour glas s, lodestone, the quadrant and the backstasff. At his feet is a volume with the initials of Thomas Hariot who compiled a small dictionary of the Indian Language.

Smith himself holds a copy of his famous map of Virginia. The other loyal friend and Patron is Sir Samuel Saltonstall, son of a Lord Mayor of London. He it was who bore the costs of printing Smith's Sea Grammar. Not only did he undertake this but he also held open house for Smith at his home in Snow Hill, to the west of this Church. In this house a room was reserved for Smith who had a trunk standing there, no doubt for his personal books and belongings. Sir Samuel's first cousin, Sir Richard Saltonstall, founded the Massachusetts branch of the family which continues to this day.

The Tower of the Church stands behind his figure and is shown as it was before restoration not long after Smith died.

Below these three figures is the trio of vessels which on a dark December night in 1606, sailed down the Thames to arrive on April 26th of the following year on the coast of Virginia.

 

Discovery Susan Constant Godspeed

20 tons 120 tons 40 tons

 

Lord Willoughby's Arms are shown below left.
Capt. John Smith's Arms are shown below center
Sir Samuel Saltonstal's Arms are shown below right.

The Heraldry at the top of the window also has its own story. From left to right, we see the Monogram R.H. standing for Robert Hunt, Vicar of Heathfield, Sussex and Chaplain to the Expedition and the Colony.

Next are the Arms of Thomas, Lord De La Warr, eldest brother of Francis West and Lord Governor and Captain General for South Virginia. Adjoining this are the Arms of Henry Carey, Earl of Dover, to whom Smith dedicated his True Travels, Adventures and Observations of 1629.

Then follow the Arms of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, another Patron to whom Smith's book was dedicated, and the Arms of Frances Howard, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, who financed Smith's General History and permitted him to include an engraving of her Portrait.

This line of tracery ends with the letters B.G. standing for Bartholomew Gosnold the Pathfinder of New England who was the prime mover of the Colony of Virginia.

 

 

High at the top of the Window are the letters S.H. separated by a Cross, standing for St. Helen's, Willoughby by Alford in the County of Lincoln where Captain John Smith was baptised on January 9th 1580."

Of especial note for those interested in the earliest days at Jamestowne Island are Captain Smith's: Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles (1624) and The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith in Europe, Asia, Africa and America (1630)