The reason for John Smith’s imprisonment for most of the voyage to Virginia is yet another unsolved Jamestown mystery.
He was young and brash. He was a yeoman farmer’s son among English gentlemen. There were about fifty men who could call themselves gentlemen, and some of them may have found Smith irritating. At age 26 he had had much more experience, both in sailing and in fighting, than most of them. He had traveled widely in Europe. He had served in the army of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. He had once beheaded three Turks in mortal combat, and been given a coat of arms bearing three Turks’ heads. Did he flaunt his honors aboard ship? Did he brag? No one knows.
Did the other men take Smith/s side? There were a dozen men listed simply as “laborers.” What did they think of Smith? There were other men, too: 4 carpenters, 2 bricklayers, a blacksmith, a stonemason, a sail maker, a surgeon, a tailor, and others whose occupations are not listed. There was also a goldsmith, just in case they found treasure to equal what Spain had already found in the New World.
No one knew what they would find in Virginia. But every man knew that 117 colonists sent to that part of the world in 1587 had disappeared without a trace.
No wonder they were on edge.