Genealogy of Pocohontas
POCAHONTAS, Truth and Myth
Pocahontas was born about 1594 as MATOAKA, in the village of Werowocomoco, located on the north shore of the Pamunkey River (now called the York River), some eleven miles downstream from the present city of West Point, VA. Her father was Chief Powhatan who became chief of the 32-tribe Powatanas in 1570. The Powatan Confederacy were a well organized, thriving agricultural and fishing nation with a total population in the neighborhood of about 9,000 at the time that Matoaka was born.
Prior to the English landing on May 20th, 1607, and the establishment of Jamestown, Powhatan's people knew of the Spanish Jesuit (1570-1571) murdered Pamunkey River mission and they heard of the ill-fated (1580) settlement made by the English on the Carolina banks. They had entertained a ship that entered the Pamunkey River about two years prior to Captain Christoper Newport's flotilla. The crew of earlier ship, which had been received in kindness, slew the chief of the Powhantans' Rappahannocks tribe and took some of his people as hostages or slaves. Therefore, there is no wonder that Powhatan opposed their making any settlement on his lands.
Some 200 of Powhatan's people attacked Jamestown, killing one boy and wounding seventeen men. Thereafter, Capt. Newport and two of the three ships left for England. The great Powhatan sent word of peace and a deer as an offering of good faith to [President] Edward Maria Wingfield. It may have been after this time that Matoaka visited the settlement and became known as Pocahontas. The name Pocohontas was derived from the Algonquin adjective meaning "playful one, sportive, frolicsome, mischievous, frisky" and it appears that this became Matoaka's nickname. It is interesting how the English described her in 1610: "of a coulour browne, or rather tawnye and her age was somewhere between twelve and fourteen. Roundfaced, with the fore part of her grosse and thick black hair shaven close, and the very long thicker part being tied in a pleate hanging down to her hips." It was also reported that she liked to do cartwheels while playing with the children, which may have made her appear virtually naked to the prudent colonist.
The settlers were advised not to let the Indians see or know of any sick persons and not to advertise the killing of any of their men. But, of the 100 men and four boys left in Jamestown when the two ships set sail back to England, only forty were alive by December. The remainder, using the James River for their drinking water as well as for their sewer, were destroyed with cruel diseases described as: "Swellings (salt water poisoning) , Flixes (dysentery), Burning Fever (typhoid) and by warres. Some departed suddenly, but most of them died of meere famine." Pocahontas and her friends were credited with saving the survivors from starvation.
The myth of Capt. John Smith will be explained later. However, in September of 1609, Capt. Smith was returning from a trip to the falls of the James River in an effort to expand the colony beyond Jamestown. He was injured while sleeping when a powder-bag exploded and tore flesh, nine or ten inches square, from his body and thighs. To quench the tormenting fire, he leaped overboard into the river near what is now the city of Richmond, VA. It was not long after the accident that he left Virginia and returned to England for medical treatment. Six years later he would see Pocahontas again.
Meanwhile, Powhatan wanted to be a greater distance from the colonists. Toward the end of January of 1609, he moved his residence to a site near Orapaks, located on the upper reaches of the Chicahominy River, some fifty miles from Jamestown.
In the spring of 1612 (?), Capt. Samuel Argall, who was trading for corn along the river, learned that Pocahontas was nearby. Somehow he talked the natives he was trading with to invite her to dinner with him aboard his ship. Argall then took Pocahontas to Jamestown and held her as a hostage, at first to ransom eight English men, many swords, and other tools her father had captured. Relations between Powhatan and the Virginians had become strained, and Argall also hoped to use Pocahontas as a shield to prevent her father from burning Jamestown and also to negotiate a peace. (This date is questionable due to the proposition that, according to "The True Story of Pocohontas" as shown on public television, she was held as a hostage for three years by the English.)
During this time, Pocohontas met John Rolfe who fell in love and asked permission to marry her. Rolfe was the first gentlemen to plant tobacco in Virginia and was well respected among the colonists. Governor Thomas Daile readily agreed as he felt it would benefit Jamestown and the colony. Her father was also pleased with the proposal and the news of his daughter's wedding. Powhatan sent her uncle, Opachisco, to give her away as his deputy in the church and to see the marriage blessed. Two of Matoaka's brothers also attended the wedding. Pocahontas' Christian name was declared to be Rebbeca. She was married to John Rolfe in the Anglican Church in Jamestown on April 5, 1614, by the Reverend Richard Buck. Powhatan gave the newlyweds property on which Capt. Smith had built a small fort, used as a military outpost in the expansion of the colony. Today Fort Smith is in Surry County, just across the James River, and is used as a visitor center.
Pocahontas, now Rebbeca Rolfe, gave birth to a son, Thomas Rolfe, in 1615. Young Thomas was cared for by Pocahontas, and by her half-sister MATACHANNA and her husband TOMOCOMO. Early in 1616, Governor Daile, along with John Rolfe and his family, departed for England. Matachanna and her husband Tomocomo (who was Powhatan's priest-counselor), along with several other young Powhatan men and women, went along.
Upon their arrival in England, Pocahontas and her husband were well received by the Royal court. They had an audience with the king and queen who considered her as a princess partly due to the diligent care of Gentlemen John Rolfe (spelled Wrolfe in England and also spelled Rolph today). Pocahontas deserves her due credit, as she was well liked and in every manner a lady of the Royal Court from Virginia.
Pocohontas did meet Capt. John Smith in England and here is where the myth comes in. Capt. John Smith wrote his memoirs after he returned to England and before Pocahontas was a smash with the Royal Court and with the king and queen. Nowhere in the original script of his memoirs is there any mention of Pocahontas saving his life by laying across his body, or that he was about to be killed. Now, he met Pocahontas again and discovered that she was highly thought of by the English court. Only after she died did he rewrite his story to include an account of Pocahontas saving his life. Apparently, Capt. Smith's popularity was in decline until he re-associated himself with Pocahontas. They were friends in Virginia, and she did befriended the colonist, but the story that history has accepted as truth is highly questionable in my opinion.
Pocahontas (Rebbeca) fell gravely ill aboard ship in preparation for the return trip back home to Virginia and died on March 21, 1616. Her funeral was held at Saint George's Parish Church in Gravesend, England. Services were given by the Rev. Nicholas Frankwell, and attending the funeral were her husband, Capt. Argall, the Dept. Governor of Virginia, and Rophe Hamor. Her grave reads as entered into the church record:
"1616 March 21, Rebecca Wrolfe, Wyffe of Thomas John Wrolfe Gentleman, a Virginia Lady borne was buried in ye chancell. Entered by Rev. Nicholas Frankwell."
Young Thomas stayed in England and lived with his uncle, Henry Rolfe, in London while his father and his native American aunt and uncle (Matachanna & Tomocomo) returned to Virginia. The descendants of Pocahontas, then, come from her only son, Thomas Rolfe. He was born in Virginia in 1615 and the genealogy is as follows, according to the book "Pocahontas & her Descendants", published by Genealogical Publishing Co. in 1968.
- Matoaka (Pocahontas) m 5 Apr 1614 John Rolfe in Anglican Church, Jamestown, son Thomas born 1615 Pocahontas 1594 - March 1616 died in England buried in Gravesend, England. Thomas was left in England in care of grandparents (another source claims it was his uncle).
- Thomas Rolfe b 1615 was the only child of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. He married Jane Poythress when he was 20-25 yrs old in England. They only had one child, a daughter.
- Jane Rolfe b ? m 1675 d 1676 Col Robert Bolling b 1646 d 1709 son of John & Mary Bolling of All Hollows, Barkin Parish, Tower Street, London. They had one child, a son.
- John Bolling of "Cobbs" (Colonel) b 1676 d 1729 was a member of the House of Burgesses m Mary Kennon dtr of Dr. Kennon, they had one son and 5 daughters.
- John Bolling (Major) b 1700 d 6 Sep 1757 m 1 Aug 1728 Elizabeth Blair they had 19 children, break down not given on how many boys versus girls.
- a. Thomas Bolling b 7 Jul 1735 d 7 Aug 1804 m Elizabeth Gay=10c 5 sons
7a. William Bolling (Col & M.H.D.) m Mary Randolph=10c
8a1. Willam Albert (deaf mute) m Eliza Christian
8a2. Thomas b 1807 m Louis Morris daughter of Richard Morris
6b. John Bolling b 24 Jun 1737 d 179? m Martha Jefferson sister of Pres. Thomas Jefferson=11c
7b1. John Bolling m ? ____ Kennon=7c
7b2. Edward Bolling d 1835 m Dolly Payne=4c
8b2a. Powhatan Bolling m _____Payne7b3. Archibald Bolling m Catharine Payne=8c
8b3a. Archibald Bolling d 1860 m Anne E. Wigginton7b4. Robert Bolling m Jane Payne=2c 2daughters
8b3b. Edward Bolling d 1855 m Anne Cralle
8b3c. Alexander Bolling d 1878 m Susan Gray
6c. Robert Bolling (Col) 17 Aug 1738 d 1769 m Mary Burton (2) Susan Watson=6c
7c1. Linneaus Bolling b 1773 d 1836 m Mary Markham=4c
8c1a. Phillip A. Bolling m Mary Eppes=1c son7c2. Powhatan b 1767 d 1802
8c1b. Robert Bolling m Shara Hobson (2) Mary Watkins (3) Martha
6d. Archibald Bolling 20 Mary 1750 d ? m (1) Sharah Cary 1770
(2) Jane Randolph 1774
(3) Widow Byrd 1797
(4) Widow Clark 1802=13c total
7d1. Blair Bolling b 1792 m(1) M. A. Webster 1824 (2) Penelope Storrs 1827
8d1a Archibald Bolling m Feb 1852 Eliza Trueheart Armistead
8d1b John Bolling m Oct 1855 Maria Page Armistead (2 m) Julia
Within seven successive generations, many educators, ministers, statesmen, and lawmakers descended from Pocahontas. Several surnames associated with her line are: BLAIR, BOLLING, LEWIS, and RANDOLPH (of which the most distinguished was John RANDOLPH of Roanoke, State Representative of the Great State of Virginia in the House of Representatives). Other surnames include FLEMING, ELDRIDGE, GAY, WALKE, DUVAL, CABELL, MEGGINSON, ARCHER, TAZEWELL, BENTLY, BERNARD, EPPES, WORSHAM, and Thomas Jefferson Randolph, the grandson of President Thomas Jefferson and the 6th great-grandson of Pocahontas.
Pocahontas by Stuart E. Brown Jr.
Pocahontas & her Descendants pub by Genealogical Publishing Co, in 1968.
Ancestors and Descendants of Francis Eppes of Virginia
Research done by Beverley Dorman in Virginia ( various visitors pamphlets, guides, etc.).
This article was written by Ed Mentz.
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