An English colony was established in America (New World) by two expeditions in 1607 and 1610 respectively in Jamestown, Virginia. The remains of four of the prominent members of the expeditions were exhumed in November 2013 in the church where Pocahontas married Captain John Rolfe in 1614 after two years of detective work.
The following facts indicate that the remains were of very important figures who lived in Jamestown between 1607 and 1610 when the colony almost collapsed:
- Bodies were found in Church’s chancel.
- The presence of certain chemicals confirmed the men’s English origins.
- Evidence of a high protein diet pointed to relative wealth.
- Elevated levels of lead and silver sash found in the remains indicate their high social status.
Using physical evidence at the site, analysis of the bones and extensive historical research, scientists narrowed the search down to the following four men:
- Captain Gabriel Archer. He led some of the first expeditions up the James river seeking gold and silver.
- Sir Ferdinando Wainman. He arrived in 1610 with fresh supplies and saved the colony from abandonment. He died a few months later from disease and was the first English knight to be buried in America.
- Captain William West. He was killed by Native Americans near the location of present-day Richmond.
- The fourth man, Reverend Robert Hunt, was the first Anglican minister in America and arrived with the founding expedition in 1607 to convert Native Americans to Christianity.
The fact that the Church of England was established here is very important because Christianity was only half a century old at the time.
The remains of the four men were taken to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for forensic analysis. The results were compared with historical records to narrow the potential candidates for who they might be. Genetic analysis may even help trace living descendants of the men.
The mystery behind a silver box placed on the coffin of Captain Archer and the meaning of a letter M carved on the box may remain unknown forever.