On the early morning (about 4 a.m.)
of Sunday, April 26, 1607, three small
ships carrying the first permanent
settlers of Virginia approached the
shore near Cape Henry at the mouth of
the Chesapeake Bay. This Virginia
Company of London expedition had set
sail from England on Dec. 26, 1606.
Released from their four month
confinement at sea, they made
landfall just west of the cape, where
the reverend Robert Hunt led the
colonists in giving thanks to god for
their “safe” voyage.
Captain Christopher Newport, the
expedition’s commander until the first
charter’s requirements were carried
out, went ashore that morning with a
party to explore this new land filled
with “freshwaters, faire meadowes," and
“goodly tall trees”. During an
afternoon encounter with indians, two
of the party were wounded.
That evening the colonists opened the
strong box and read the instructions
contained in the first charter. Upon
discovering that the members of the
council were named but not its
president, they held the first recorded
free election under English common
law; the vote being duly recorded for the
establishment of “James Cittie”.
A second party was to put ashore
the next day to assemble a “shallop”,
which is a small boat. This shallop was
used to explore the lower reaches of
the Chesapeake Bay and the
Lynnhaven River, possibly as far in-
land as today’s Thalia and Wolf Snare.
According to George Percy, younger
son of the Duke of Northumberland,
who was with them, “on the nine and
twentieth day we returned to the
mouth of the Chesiopic, set up a cross
and called the place Cape Henry” for
Henry, Prince of Wales, elder son of
king James I.
April 30 found them at a new
anchorage, “Cape Comfort” and shortly
thereafter they entered the James River.
After two weeks of searching both sides
of the James River for a suitable site,
they established the first permanent
settlement on May 13, 1607, naming it
“James Cittie” for king James I.
(information and picture provided by
the department of the interior)
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