Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Fateful Anniversary 400 Years Ago

            Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, a Dutch ship brought Africans to Jamestown, Virginia--and sold them. The rest is history. Slavery was about to begin.

           To set the record straight, not one, but two ships arrived in August 1619. Besides    “Dutch ship” with “20. and odd Negroes”,  as John Rolfe’s famous letter noted, “Three or four days after [afterward] the Treasurer arrived.” The Treasurer was an unlicensed privateer in the service of Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick. It did not sail upriver to Jamestown, but remained at Point Comfort. Rolfe did not mention them, but the Treasurer also brought more Africans. 

            How do we know? 

            A census of the Virginia colony in March 1620 lists 32 Africans, including the now-famous 20 who came on the Dutch ship in August 1619. Where did the other dozen come from? One of the dozen was a woman named Angelo, who was listed in a 1625 census as having arrived on the Treasurer. 

            But the Treasurer, damaged by years of wind and waves, became a derelict ship, unseaworthy in 1620, so Angelo must have come before that date. She was not the only African who arrived on the Treasurer. The 1625 census also lists a young African couple, William and Isabel, and their child, Willam. They were in the household of William Tucker, commander of the fort at Point Comfort when the Treasurer arrived there in 1619. So was William Pierce, the colonist who bought Angelo. 
             We know nothing about Angelo but her name. We do know that William Pierce, her master, had a fifteen-year-old daughter, Jane, who had just married the thirty-four-year-old widower, John Rolfe. His first wife was Pocahontas, who had died in London in 1617. 
            There’s a lot we don’t know about that early history. 

             See my book, A Tale of Two Colonies: What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda? 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

New Jamestown Mystery Unearthed!

Last week, a new archaeological find at Jamestown: a skeleton that may well have been George Yeardley. 

He’s a central figure in early Virginia history --and in my novel:

JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL: The Story of America’s Beginning

(New York: Argo Navis, 2014; originally published as A Durable Fire, New York: William Morrow, 1990; Avon, 1991)

 “A complex tale of courage, treachery, cultural conflict, administrative bungling and desperate choices.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
​ “A captivating first novel that combines Bernhard’s expertise as an American history professor with a vivid, sure prose style to produce a rich tale of suffering and triumph in 1600s America.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS

Fiction, with a supplement of eyewitness accounts.
Now an Amazon paperback and e-book.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Espionage in England

No, not the recent Salisbury spy troubles, but secrets kept in the 400 yeares ago: 

England’s greatest rival was Spain. England’s colonizing ventures in the New World were not for Spanish eyes. 

One of the bearers of secrets for the English was Captain Christopher Newport, who landed the first colonists at Jamestown in April 1607. He had made the crossing from England to Virginia twice more in 1608, each time bringing letters and reports—all of which the Virginia Company classified as top secret.  Places of settlement, numbers of colonists and natives, descriptions of the land, and locations of harbors and rivers were closely guarded. No wonder the Spanish were suspicious. Had the English found gold? Silver? Maps were kept under lock and key and none were to be made public without approval of the royal Privy Council or the Virginia Company Council.

But Spain had spies in London. . . .

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Jamestown, the Novel!

"Jamestown: The Novel, the story of America's beginnings" is still available in print & ebook, even if "Jamestown: the Series" is not!
Meanwhile, my World War I book is coming in December. After that, more on Jamestown, etc.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Another Jamestown Mystery?

When in London last week, I read a notice that the last of the 8 episodes of "Jamestown" on Sky TV was to air Thursday. Not much buzz for the whole series. Will it become available in the US??
Who knows?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Jamestown." When can we see it?

The British-made series about early Jamestown is beginning in the UK May 5!  

Can’t wait to see how it measures up to JAMESTOWN: THE NOVEL.

Watch this space for news!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jamestown lives!

A new TV series is in the making! JAMESTOWN, made in the UK by the producers of--guess what--"Downton Abbey" is to be released in 2017, date TBA.

"Dec 30, 2016 - The emotional eight-part series will follow Alice, Verity and Jocelyn as they become the first women to settle in the colony."

"The first women"? Not quite! This series begins in 1619, but the very first Englishwomen--just two of them--arrived in 1608. 
Can't wait for the TV version. 

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