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FAMILY HISTORY NEWS

December 2006

 

Suffolk, UK: America’s Forgotten Founding Father

     This story is related to the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.

 

On behalf of those of us in DNA Cluster 5, I have been working with several UK researchers to explore the possibility of our family line’s origins in Suffolk, UK. This possible geographical link was identified and is based on Alan Evered’s DNA Profile in our Cluster. It has created more interest in understanding the history of this area.

           

        The December issue of British Heritage magazine offers a great article on a somewhat unknown “founding grandfather” of the Virginia Company and the Jamestown Colony, Bartholomew Gosnold of Otley, Suffolk. The article reports: It was the vision, enthusiasm and organization of Bartholomew Gosnold, of Otley, Suffolk, that resulted in the Virginia Company and the settlement of Jamestown now 400 years ago (p.19).

           

        Gosnold was born in 1571 in East Anglia and his family was close to the Earl of Essex. His family had also tenanted and then owned Otley Hall and the manor of Otley since 1401. These lie near the Suffolk seaport town of Ipswich. Gosnold became a sea voyager, traveling to the Azores in 1597 and later made a small fortune privateering against the Spanish. By 1600 he initiated the campaign to begin an English colony in Virginia.

           

        By 1602 the expedition had engaged the ship, Concord, with Gosnold as the captain. The ship carried 32 on board – 20 of these were to be settlers of the new colony. The ship, having a keel of only 39 feet, crossed the Atlantic via a northern route in seven weeks. However, it landed initially at Cape Elizabeth off what is now Portland, Maine. He soon came upon Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, naming it for his daughter and the abundance of wild grapes. While returning to England as somewhat of a failure, it is said that Shakespeare based the geography of The Tempset on Gosnold’s voyage. The Mayflower would follow Gosnold’s north Atlantic route some years later.

                   

        Gosnold persisted, personally and politically, and in April, 1606, James I created the Virginia Company. As we know, the three ships left London in December, 1606 with 55 crew and 105 male settlers. Today, Otley Hall in Suffolk is known as the “Birthplace of the Virginia Company” and is a designated historic site which is opened for tours by its present owners (www.otleyhall.co.uk ).

 

We know at least two of the earliest Everetts (Aaron and Christopher) who arrived from the UK in the Jamestown settlement in 1635. Other researchers have speculated about other early arrivals. (See our web pages on the Early Everett Arrivals.)

 

There has been a lot of interest in and news coverage on Jamestown since it will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first permanent settlement next year. A special database of descendants of the first British emigrants to the US is being developed and the project is underway. Names and data on the early families are being collected and verified using both traditional and genetic genealogies methods. It has been estimated that there may be as many as 145 million descendants of the original 105 settlers.

           

    If you are interested in learning more or joining this genealogy project go to the Genealogy Found website: www.genealogyfound.org . Please post your experiences on our Bulletin Board if you join. If you would like to read more about the Jamestown Anniversary go to this website: www.jamestown2007.org/home.cfm .