Well, so now I've embarked on the genealogy wagon on ancestry.com, and I have to say, I'm finding out some interesting things. First of all, I've debunked two "family legends"--that we are related to Mary Todd Lincoln and Ralph Waldo Emerson. There is a Mary Todd in our tree, but she is not the one who married Lincoln. And, there is also a Ralph Waldo Emerson, but he is not the same man who was a Transcendentalist and wrote the wonderful essays. But one "legend" is true: both sides of our family have been in America since its founding. I've got Quakers on one side and Revolutionary soldiers on both (including a Capt Mordecai Abrams from London, who fought in the Revolution and was Jewish! on my father's side.)
But this brings me to Jamestown Colony. One of my ancestors is an English gentleman named George Percy, who arrived with the first three ships to Jamestown Colony. His father was Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and his mother was Lady Catherine Neville.
Back to the story. George Percy actually had the highest social rank of every last gentleman on that first trip to Jamestown. I suppose we can guess that he was new to hard labor (although he was an experienced soldier). But he also had terrible asthma and quite possibly suffered from epilepsy. Thus it's not really a surprise the colonists didn't put him on the Virginia Council. Once Capt. John Smith, Gabrielle Archer, and John Ratcliffe took over the colony, poor old Percy became their subordinate and did as he was bidden.
However, he must have gained enough respect since he became president of the colony after the departure of Captain John Smith. But it was during Percy's tenure that Jamestown went through "the starving time" discussed in the video below. Even though Percy kept a record of his time at Jamestown colony, he never mentioned cannibalism--though if he knew it was going on, that's not really a surprise since it would reflect poorly on him. Besides, he was ill so often that he pretty much left the colony in the hands of Archer, Ratcliffe, and another fellow named John Martin.
In June 1610, when Thomas West (also my ancestor), the 3rd Baron de la Warr, arrived just in the nick of time with more colonists and supplies, Percy gladly gave up his position to him, although he chose to stay at Jamestown. At that point, the colonists were finally able to gain a foothold in the area, largely because they went on a slaughtering campaign of the local Indians. I don't mean just the Powhatans, either. La Warr himself made use of Percy's military experience to send him and 70 men to annihilate the local Chickahominy and Paspahegh Indians. Because of this, de la Warr made Percy Governor of Virginia in his absence, having been called back to England, and Percy held that post until he returned to England in 1612.
Here's the thing that astonishes me: despite his health issues, Percy was at Jamestown Colony from its founding in 1606 until he left in 1612. So many men died--at one point, they were down to just fifty--yet Percy managed to survive the whole time. When he departed, he left a wife there (Anne Percy), so perhaps he intended to come back. He did not make it back, and she died in 1618. He also left a daughter there, Anne Claiborne, who wound up marrying John R. West, the grandson of Thomas de la Warr. John West became the 3rd governor of Virginia. Their daughter, Alice, married one Thomas Harris--and then it's a straight line to my mother, Joyce Harris Luck.
So, it's an interesting story and interesting that I have a personal attachment to it. I can't say I'm fond of the fact that my ancestors slaughtered Indians, but the flip side of that is that they played a very large part in the founding of this country we now call the United States of America.