This letter below is an actual letter written in 1623 by Richard Frethorne and indentured servant in Jamestown Colony.Loving and kind father and mother:
My most humble duty remembered to you, hoping in God of your good health. This is to let you understand that I, your child, am in a most heavy case because of the nature of the country, which causes much sickness. When we are sick there is nothing to comfort us. Since I came out of the ship, I never ate anything but peas and loblollie (that is, water gruel). As for deer or venison, I never saw any since I came into this land. There is indeed some fowl. But we are not allowed to go and get it. We must work hard both early and late for a mess of water gruel and a mouthful of bread and beef.
We live in fear of the enemy every hour; we are but 32 to fight against 3,000 if they should come. And the nearest help that we have is 10 miles from us. When the rogues overcame this place the last time they slew 80 persons.
I have nothing to comfort me. I have nothing at all—no, not a shirt to my back but two rags, nor no clothes but one poor suit, nor but one pair of shoes, one pair of stockings, and one cap. My cloak was stolen by one of my own fellows. And to his dying hour, he would not tell me what he did with it. Some of my fellows saw him take butter and beef out of a ship, which my cloak, I doubt not, paid for.
I am not a quarter as strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victuals. I tell you that I have eaten more in one day in your home than I have here in a week. You have given more than my day's allowance to a beggar at the door.
If you love me you will redeem me suddenly, for which I do entreat and beg, And if you cannot get the merchants to redeem me for some little money, then for God's sake get a gathering or ask some good folks to lay out some little sum of money in meal and cheese and butter and beef. The answer of this letter will be life or death to me.
Your loving son,
Virginia 3rd April, 1623
Virginia 3rd April, 1623
Essential Question: How was the Colonial House experience different from Jamestown?
- Jamestown was founded in 1607
- 80% of the settlers died in the first few months
- In 1619 the first slaves from Africa to an English colony were sold by a Dutch trader.
- Read the Richard Frethorne letter
- Read the Wikipedia Page entry on the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia from 1607-1609 Arrival and Beginning through 1609-1610 Starving Time and Third Supply.
- Watch Colonial House
- How does the letter compare to the television show?
- Does this letter change your opinion about colonizing the Americas?
- You are a Jamestown colonist. Write a letter home describing the conditions you are living with.