JENNIFER POTTER    Book Number: 87178    Product format: Hardback

In 1651, 56 English women crossed the Atlantic in response to the Virginia Company of London's call for maids 'young and uncorrupt' to make wives for the planters of its new colony in Virginia. The English had settled there just 14 years previously and the company hoped to root its unruly menfolk to the land with ties of family and children. While the women travelled of their own accord, the company was in effect selling them at a profit for a bride price of 150lbs of tobacco for each woman sold. The rewards would flow to investors in the near-bankrupt company. But what did the women want from the enterprise and why did they go? Why did they agree to make such a dangerous crossing to a wild land where six out of seven European settlers died within the first few years from dysentery, typhoid, saltwater poisoning and periodic skirmishes with the native population? And what happened to them in the end? Jennifer Potter tracks the women's footsteps from their homes in England and delves into company records and original sources on both sides of the Atlantic to give voice to these forgotten women of America's early history. Among the 'lost colonists' who disappeared from Roanoke Island were the first English women hoping to settle in North America, including Governor John White's daughter and granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. Their ages range from 16 to 28, and most had lost their parents. In 1618, vagrants and prostitutes had been sent out to the colony as cheap labour. What fuelled the decision to send the new batch of women was money, the Bartered Brides. A few months after landing around 25% of the colony was wiped out by Indians and the life in Virginia was harsh, food and water scarce. By 1623 the Company had collapsed, and Virginia became a royal colony. It is believed that only seven of the 56 women married. 372pp, woodcut illus.
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ISBN 9781782399131
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