Jamestown Brides

Jamestown Brides

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Jamestown Brides - History

Unlike later northern colonies settled by families, Jamestown was occupied mostly by transient male fortune seekers who intended to accumulate wealth and return to England. The Virginia Company, which founded and governed Jamestown, desired permanence. Mail order brides became the successful solution.

The Virginia Company began soliciting female immigrants, but very few responded. After the devastating disease and starvation of Jamestown in 1608, most European women were repulsed at the idea of moving to a struggling colony.

By 1614, it seemed the colony would surely falter without females for bachelors to marry and establish households with. In 1619, funds were solicited to pay passage for eligible women. When the funding ran out, a new plan was needed.

Brilliant progressive ideas were then put into place.
Women were considered vital to the stabilization and future of the colony. Now revered as valuable founding mothers, women were chosen with care. They lined up, with character references in hand, hoping to be selected. Not all were.

She was not coerced, so what made her want to go?
Her transport was free and she was provided clothes, shoes, and sheets.
Upon arriving in the colony, she was given free shelter and food until married.
It was she who chose who to marry. A few chose to remain single.
Upon marriage, a husband paid the company 120 pounds of tobacco as reimbursement for her transport costs. (Not to be misconstrued as a purchase.)
She was given property shares equal to those given to her husband.
She had more dower and inheritance rights than her English counterparts.
She had the right to sue, be sued, conduct business, and sell real property.

Within a year after Jamestown settlement began recruiting brides, the French in New France (Quebec) followed suit. Other budding settlements on the Chesapeake Bay did the same.

Over all, the bride recruitment program was a success and met its goal. Houses were built, families grew, farms and businesses were established. People stayed. More arrived.

The first women recruits were called Jamestowne Brides. "Mail Order" is just a modern convenient phrase.

16 Surprising Facts About Colonial America’s Mail-Order Brides of Jamestown

Illustration of Life in the 17th Century. Dailybeast / Getty Images.

3. Even After Applying to Become a Bride, Women Might Have Jumped Ship Before Departure

With so many women applying to become a Jamestown bride and settle in Virginia, people would believe the women were eager to go. However, records suggest that this was not always the case. In fact, on one of the ships which brought the Jamestown brides over the sea, many women attempted and possibly succeeding in escaping the ship before it officially departed. Many historians speculate that this might be because the women realize what they had been promised for the voyage was not there. Accordingly, the ladies wondered if they would receive any incentives they were told.

While the records from the Virginia Company show that some women protested while on the ship, or before boarding, we do not know how many women, if any, who refused to go to Jamestown on that voyage. What we do know is that not all the supplies were on the shop with the women because, after the ship&rsquos departure, a letter was sent to Jamestown&rsquos Colonial Council. In the letter, the company apologized to the council for not being able to address all the supplies they told the women they would receive. What happened after the ship arrived in Jamestown we do not know. We do not know if anything was waiting for the women once they came to the settlement, if they stayed, or if they went back to England.

Mail Order Brides in the Early Republic

The practice of mail order brides continued to ebb and flow throughout the colonial period and into the early republic. Often the mail order bride process was informal.

A man would write his family in the old country to help him find a suitable wife and then when they had selected someone he would pay for his bride’s passage.

The bride and groom might exchange letters, but given the low literacy rates and the nine months or so it took for a letter to travel back and forth between North America and Europe sometimes they never had any direct communication until the woman arrived on his doorstep.

This sort of informal mail order bride process still goes on today and is fairly common in immigrant communities around the world. It also drives the modern international dating business, because often men want to marry a nice Polish girl like their grandma even if the family has lost all real connections to Poland, the Czech Republic, or wherever.

Sometimes indentured servants became something like mail order brides. An indentured servant was essentially a slave for the term of their contract, usually five to seven years, but sometimes men selected an indentured servant with the purpose of marrying her.

In many ways using indentured servants as potential brides opened the door for far more abuse than more overt forms of arranged marriage, because the power imbalance between the man and the woman was almost total. It is hard to get details on this form of marriage, but it was a practice that happened fairly often.

Still the long lag time for letters and the expense and dangers of sailing from Europe kept the practice of mail order brides fairly limited until the 1840s.


Mail-order brides work with "international marriage agencies".

An international marriage agency (also called an international introduction agency or international marriage broker) is a business that endeavors to introduce men and women of different countries for the purpose of marriage, dating, or correspondence. Many of these marriage agencies are based near women in developing countries (such as Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, China, Thailand, and the Philippines). [3] International marriage agencies encourage women to register for their services, and facilitate communication and meetings with men from developed regions of North America, Western Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. [4] This network of smaller international marriage agencies is often affiliated with web-based international dating sites that are able to market their services on a larger scale, in compliance with regulations such as the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. [5] Experian, a market research firm, reports that the top 10 international dating sites attracted 12 million visitors in March 2013, up 29% from March 2012. [6] International dating sites provide a wide variety of online communication, including instant messaging, email letters, webchat, phone translation, virtual gifts, live games, and mobile-based chat. [7] [8] International marriage agencies are frequently referred to as "mail-order bride" agencies. However, many consider the term "mail-order bride" derogatory and feel it demeans foreign women by comparing them to commodities for sale and by falsely implying that (unlike local women), they exercise no judgment over the men they meet and would marry anyone from a relatively wealthy country. [9]

Services offered by marriage agencies typically include:

  • Introductions
  • Translation of correspondence between clients not speaking a common language
  • Excursions, in which a man is introduced to several women interested in marriage

In 1620, the Virginia Company recruited mail-order brides for the Jamestown colony, sponsoring the emigration of 140 women in hopes of reducing desertion by the settlers and to avoid the men marrying women from the local Native American tribes. They were sometimes referred to as "tobacco wives", because each male colonist who married a mail-order bride had to reimburse the company for her passage at a cost of 120 pounds of "good leaf tobacco". The women who were brought over by the company were free to marry whomever they chose, even men who were too poor to pay their passage fee. The average age of these brides was 20. [10] : 14-22

France took a similar tactic in the mid-1600s, recruiting and sponsoring approximately 800 women to emigrate to New France. These mail-order brides were known as the King's Daughters (French: filles du roi or filles du roy in the spelling of the era). [11] : 9, 102 The New France colony had problems similar to Jamestown's: male settlers returning to France or marrying Native American women and leaving the colony to live with their wives' tribes. For the King's Daughters, the government not only paid to recruit and transport them, it also provided each woman with a dowry of at least 50 livres. As with the "tobacco wives" of Jamestown, the King's Daughters had the right to choose their partners and could refuse any suitor. The success of the program is indicated by genetic studies of modern French Canadians which found that the King's Daughters and their husbands were "responsible for two-thirds of the genetic makeup of over six million people". [10] : 30-41

When New France began its Louisiana colony in 1699, it requested more mail-order brides. These were known as Pelican girls (for the first ship that brought women to the colony, Le Pélican). This program was not successful the women had been recruited with false descriptions of the struggling colony and had many complaints about their treatment. When women in France heard of the terrible conditions and of how the Pelican girls had been treated, the government was unable to recruit many more mail-order brides. France had to resort to shipping over thieves and prostitutes, known as "correction girls". [10] : 51-54

There are at least two historical roots of the mail-order bride industry that emerged in the 1800s in the American frontier: Asian workers in the frontier regions (although Asian workers were scattered throughout the world), and American men who had headed west across the United States to the frontier.

Asian men worked through mail-order agencies to find wives as they worked overseas in the 1800s. Key variables determining the relationship between migration and marriage were demographics, legal policies, cultural perceptions and technology. [12] Imbalances between the number of available women and the number of men desiring partners created a demand for immigrant women. As a result of this imbalance, a new system of "picture brides" developed in predominantly male settlements. [13] In the early 20th century, the institution of "picture brides" developed due to immigration restrictions. The Japanese-American Passport Agreement of 1907 allowed Japan to grant passports to the wives of immigrants to America. [14] As immigration of unmarried Japanese women to America was effectively barred, the use of "picture brides" provided a mechanism for willing women to obtain a passport to America, while Japanese workers in America could gain a female helpmate of their own nationality. [14]

European American men sought financial success in the migration West, but few women lived there at this time, so it was hard for these men to settle down and start a family. During the California gold rush in 1849, there were at least three men for every woman, and by 1852 the ratio had increased to nearly seven men for every woman. [10] : 65 They attempted to attract women living back East the men wrote letters to churches and published personal advertisements in magazines and newspapers. In return, the women would write to the men and send them photographs of themselves. Courtship was conducted by letter, until a woman agreed to marry a man she had never met. [15] Many women wanted to escape their present way of living, gain financial security and see what life on the frontier could offer them. Most of these women were single, but some were widows, divorcées or runaways. [16] Mail-order marriages gave Black women an escape from the crushing racial restrictions in the South. [10] : 141 In 1885, a group of married Black women in Arizona Territory formed the Busy Bee Club to advertise for wives for Arizona miners, hoping to reduce violence in the mining camps and encourage Black women to move to the area. [17] : 144 [18] : 31-34

To recruit mail-order brides for Oregon, area bachelors combined funds to send two brothers east. The Benton brothers began their search in Maryland, posting "Brides Wanted" flyers. They held meetings at which they described the territory and promised free passage west. More than 100 women accompanied the Bentons back to Oregon. [10] : 83-84 Asa Mercer performed a similar recruiting role for Seattle. Only 11 women accompanied Mercer back on his first trip, but his second was more successful, with more than 100 women travelling to Seattle, accompanied by a New York Times journalist to chronicle the journey. These prospective brides were known as Mercer Girls. [10] : 89-91

British Columbia welcomed sixty women from Britain, mail-order brides recruited by the Columbia Emigration Society, in 1862. Another twenty women from Australia were bound for Victoria but were convinced to stay in San Francisco when their ship docked there. [19]

In the early 20th century, answering matrimonial ads was a route to entering the United States after immigration limits became more restrictive. It was also a means of escaping war-torn regions. In 1922, two ships docked in New York with 900 mail-order brides from Turkey, Romania, Armenia, and Greece, fleeing the Greco-Turkish War. [10] : 174-181

Eastern Europe Edit

Women in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other Eastern European countries are common mail-order bride candidates.

Economic and social conditions for women in Russia and other Post-Soviet states are a motivational factor in finding foreign arrangements. 52 percent of Russia's workforce is made up of women, yet according to some sources they often hold low positions of prominence in their home country and work jobs with less respect and lower wages (such as teaching or physician positions) [20] and women earn 43 percent of what men do. [21]

On the other hand, according to Grant Thornton International Business Report for 2014, as cited by Forbes, Russia has the highest proportion of women in senior management worldwide at 43%, followed closely by other post-Soviet countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia. [22] According to an earlier Grant Thornton International Business Report for 2012, Russia had an even higher proportion of women in senior management at 46%, still highest in the world. [23]

Finding a foreign husband gives a woman a chance to leave her country and find better economic opportunities. Marriage is a substantial part of Russian culture, with 30 years being the age at which a woman is considered an "old maid". [24] With 4,138,273 more women than men from the ages of 15 to 64, marriage opportunities are slim at home and worsened by the life expectancy difference between men (64.3 years) and women (73.17 years), as well as the fact that a large portion of successful males are emigrating out of Russia. [25]

In testimony before the United States Senate, Professor Donna Hughes said that two thirds of Ukrainian women interviewed wanted to live abroad and this rose to 97% in the resort city of Yalta. [26]

Asia Edit

Many international brides come from developing countries in Asia. The countries the women come from are faced with unemployment, malnutrition and inflation. [27] However, economic factors are not the only driving factor for women in Asia to enter the mail-order industry. Filipina women often entered the mail-order industry in the hope of marrying abroad, and then sponsoring their family for immigration. [27] In some cases women were recruited based on their physical appearance, with an emphasis placed on youth and virginity. [27] This is found among boutique agencies, most of which cater to wealthy men from other Asian nations. The majority of Asian mail-order brides come from the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and China. [28]

Australia Edit

Since 2003, the Government of Australia's resolve to decrease what was deemed "inappropriate immigration" by then-Prime Minister John Howard has gained momentum. Initial reactions to the program were mixed. However, during the January 2004 visit to Eastern Europe by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Philip Ruddock, Australian-Russian relationships were strengthened while both nations committed to a timetable for reductions in Russian human trafficking into Australia. The Australian public further embraced its government's new policies following the media circus of the Jana Klintoukh case. This case first exploded into the public's view when current-events program Today Tonight aired footage of a young Russian-born Australian, claiming she was imported via an Internet site and was kept as a sexual slave by her "husband" while being confined to his Sydney home. [ citation needed ]

Belarus Edit

In 2005, President Alexander Lukashenko attempted to regulate "marriage agencies" in Belarus and make it difficult for them to operate. He believed that Western men were draining his country of women of child-bearing age. [29] However, as most agencies are being run from outside Belarus (either in Russia, other European countries or the United States), he has been unable to stop (or otherwise regulate) this activity.

Cambodia Edit

Thousands of women from Cambodia were mail-order brides to men in South Korea. Viewing the practice as a form of human trafficking, in the 21st century the Cambodian government passed a number of laws, such as prohibiting marriage between Cambodian women and men over the age of 50, a ban on marriage between Cambodian women and Korean men, and a ban on marriages with foreigners (which was rescinded after six months). [10] : 197-198

Canada Edit

Canadian immigration laws concerning mail-order brides have traditionally been similar to (but slightly less restrictive than) their U.S. counterparts for instance, previously not requiring the Canadian citizen to prove minimum-income requirements (as has been a long-standing requirement of United States immigration laws). While there is still no formal requirement for a minimum salary, the sponsor must provide evidence of income (such as the T4 income tax slip from an employer) with their IMM 5481 Sponsorship Evaluation. [30] Until 2001 Canada's immigration policy designated mail-order brides under the "family class" to refer to spouses and dependents and "fiancé(e)" class for those intending to marry, with only limited recognition of externally married opposite-sex "common law" relationships same-sex partners were processed as independent immigrants or under a discretionary provision for "humane and compassionate" considerations. [31] In 2002, the Canadian Immigration Law was completely revised. One of the major changes was conjugal partner sponsorship, available for any two people (including same-sex couples) who have had conjugal relations together for at least one year. Canadian immigration authorities frown upon conjugal-partners sponsorship for heterosexual couples, and now require the couple to marry before a visa is granted [ citation needed ] (unless serious reason can be demonstrated why the couple is not yet married).

There have been reported instances in which foreign spouses have abandoned their Canadian sponsors upon arrival in Canada or soon thereafter, [32] often collecting welfare, which the sponsor is obligated to repay. [33] In some of the cases, federal immigration authorities have made no attempt to revoke fraudulently-obtained landed immigrant status or deport the claimants, treating cases where one spouse is duped by the other as low-priority and difficult to prove. [34]

A two-year conditional residence requirement (like that in force in Australia and the United States) was proposed in 2011 and is now applied to new arrivals. [35]

China Edit

China is one of the main countries of East Asian mail-order brides. Vietnamese women are traveling to China as mail-order brides for rural Han Chinese men to earn money for their families and a rise in the standard of living, matchmaking between Chinese men and Vietnamese women has increased and has not been affected by troubled relations between Vietnam and China. [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] Some Vietnamese women from Lào Cai who married Han Chinese men stated that among their reasons for doing so was that Vietnamese men beat their wives, engaged in affairs with mistresses, and refused to help their wives with chores while Han men actively helped their wives carry out chores and care for them. [44] Cambodian women also travel to China as mail order brides for rural men. [45] [46]

Colombia Edit

According to immigration statistics from the United States Department of Homeland Security, Colombia has ranked in the top 10 of countries since 1999 from which fiancées have emigrated for the United States. As well, the number of Colombians being admitted to the United States between 1999 and 2008 using fiancé visas (including children) has increased 321 percent. [47]

A dissertation by Jasney E. Cogua-Lopez, "Through the Prisms of Gender and Power: Agency in International Courtship between Colombian Women and American Men", suggests various reasons for this growth, including continuing cultural inequality between the sexes despite equality being codified in the country's laws (honor killings were not made completely illegal until 1980). [48]

Because of the large number of Colombians wishing to leave their country by marrying foreigners, a black market for marriages to foreigners has developed, with some people allegedly paying as much as 20 million pesos ($10,000) to illegal groups. [49]

According to Colombia Decrees No. 2668/88 and 1556/89, passed in 1988, foreigners are allowed to marry nationals in the country provided they supply the proper paperwork, including a birth certificate and proof that both parties are not already married. A notary is required, but because the laws are open to interpretation, the requirements can vary from notary to notary. [50]

Japan Edit

During the 1980s and 1990s, local authorities started government-led initiatives encouraging marriage between women from other Asian countries and Japanese farmers due to the lack of Japanese women who wanted to live in the countryside. [51] These Asian brides came from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China and South Korea. [51] The phenomenon of marrying women from other Asian countries later spread to urban parts of Japan as well. [52]

Philippines Edit

The Philippines prohibits the business of organizing or facilitating marriages between Filipinas and foreign men. The Philippine congress enacted the Anti Mail-Order Bride Law on June 13, 1990, as a result of stories in the local media about Filipinas being abused by their foreign husbands. Because of this, Filipinas often used "reverse publications" – publications in which men advertise themselves – to contact foreign men for marriage to Filipina women.

Successful prosecution under this statute is rare or non-existent [53] as widespread deployment of the Internet in the mid-1990s brought a proliferation of websites operating outside the Philippines which legally remain beyond the reach of Filipino law. One Montana site profiled in an ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs report entitled "Pinay Brides" circumvented the restrictions by characterising its role as that of a travel agency. [54] Thousands of Filipina women marry Americans each year. [55]

South Korea Edit

The New York Times reports, "Every month, hundreds of South Korean men fly to Vietnam, the Philippines, Nepal and Uzbekistan on special trips. An agent escorts each man to see many women in a single day, sometimes all gathered in the same hall". [56] Although these marriages can be successful, in some cases immigrant wives are mistreated, misunderstood and separated from their Korean husbands. [56] One method men use when choosing young girls as wives is "Like a judge in a beauty pageant, the man interviews the women, many of them 20 years younger than he, and makes a choice". [56] The British newspaper The Independent reports, "Last year it was reported that more than 40,000 Vietnamese women have married South Korean men and migrated there." [57] Cambodian women are also popular with Korean men seeking foreign brides, but in March 2010 the Cambodian government banned marriages to South Korean men. [58]

The Korea Times reports that every year, thousands of Korean men sign up for matches with Filipina brides through agencies and by mail order. Based on data from the Korean government, there are 6,191 Filipinas in South Korea who are married to Koreans. [59] After contacting a mail-order agency, the majority of Filipina mail-order brides met their husbands by attending "show-ups", a meeting in which a group of Filipina women are brought to meet a Korean man who is looking for a wife. At the show-up the Korean man picks a prospective wife from among the group, and in a matter of days they are married. [60]

An anthropological study on Filipina wives and Korean men by professor Kim Min-jung of the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Kangwon National University found that these Korean men find it difficult to marry Korean women, so they look for girls in poorer countries with difficult economic circumstances. [60] The Korean men feel that because of the difficult circumstances from which the Filipina women come, cultural differences and the language barrier, they "will not run away". Further, she said, Korean men characterize Southeast Asian women as friendly, hardworking (due to agrarian backgrounds), "docile and obedient, able to speak English, and are familiar with Korean patriarchal culture". [60]

A recent study by matchmaking firm Bien-Aller polled 274 single South Korean men through its website concerning motivations for marrying non-Korean women and found that men choose foreign brides primarily for one of four reasons. "According to the poll, 32.1 percent of the men said they felt the biggest benefit of marrying foreign women is their lack of interest in their groom's educational background and financial or social status. The next best reason was their belief that foreign brides would be submissive (23 percent), make their lives more comfortable (15.3 percent), and that the men would not have to get stressed about their in-laws (13.8 percent)." [61]

Kyrgyzstan [62] and Uzbekistan [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] are sources of mail order brides to South Korea.

The majority of mail order brides from China to South Korea consist of Chinese citizens of Korean ethnicity. [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80]

Violence against foreign brides in South Korea Edit

In June 2013, The Philippine embassy in Seoul reported that it had received many complaints from Filipinas who have married Korean men through mail-order, frequently becoming "victims of grave abuses". [81] The Philippine police rescued 29 mail-order brides on their way to marry South Korea men whom Chief Superintendent Reginald Villasanta, head of an organised crime task force, says were "duped into promises of an instant wealthy life through marriage with Korean gentlemen". The women were advertised in online and offline "catalogs" to South Korean men. In many cases however, victims were fed false information about the background of their future spouse and family, and suffered abuse from the South Korean men, which led to "abandonment of the marital home, separation and divorce", Villasanta said. [81]

There have been several murders of mail-order brides in South Korea. On May 24, 2011, one South Korean man "stabbed his Vietnamese wife to death while the couple’s 19-day-old baby lay next to her. The man, a farmer, had been matched up with his foreign bride through a broker. In 2010, another Vietnamese woman was killed by her husband a week after they were married. In 2008, a Vietnamese woman jumped from an apartment building to her death after being abused by her husband and mother-in-law." [57] [82]

In November 2009, Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Luis T. Cruz warned Filipina women against marrying Korean men. He said in recent months that the Philippine Embassy in Seoul has received complaints from Filipina wives of abuses committed by their Korean husbands that caused separation, divorce and abandonment. [60] [83] As language and cultural differences become an issue, the Filipina women are regarded as commodities bought for a price. [60]

Singapore Edit

Singapore has received Vietnamese women as mail order brides. [84]

Taiwan Edit

Vietnamese and Uzbek mail order brides have gone to Taiwan for marriage. [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] [90] [91]

Turkmenistan Edit

On June 4, 2001, Turkmenian President Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Turkmenbashi) authorized a decree that required foreigners to pay a $50,000 fee to marry a Turkmen citizen (regardless of how they met), and to live in the country and own property for one year. Authorities indicated that the law was designed to protect women from being duped into abusive relationships. [92] In June 2005, Niyazov scrapped the $50,000 and the property-owning requirements. [93]

United States Edit

U.S. immigration law provides protection for brides once they arrive. "In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act. Section 652 of this legislation specifically addresses the mail-order bride industry". [94]

On January 6, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) as part of the Violence Against Women Act. [95] The requirements of the law are controversial, and some commentators have claimed that it presumes that American men are abusers. [96]

In enacting IMBRA, Congress was responding to claims by the Tahirih Justice Center (TJC), a woman's advocacy group, that mail-order brides were susceptible to domestic abuse because they are unfamiliar with the laws, language and customs of their new home. The TJC insisted that special legislation was needed to protect them. [97] The TJC asked Congress to consider several notable cases mentioned in the Congressional Record. Critics of IMBRA claim that the TJC failed to ask Congress to consider the relative amount of abuse between mail-order bride couples and other couples (including the thousands of spousal murders that occurred in the US over the past 15 years).

Two federal lawsuits (European Connections & Tours v. Gonzales, N.D. Ga. 2006 AODA v. Gonzales, S.D. Ohio 2006) sought to challenge IMBRA on constitutional grounds. The AODA case was terminated when the plaintiffs withdrew their claim. The European Connections case ended when the judge ruled against the plaintiff, finding the law constitutional regarding a dating company.

On March 26, 2007, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper dismissed with prejudice a suit for injunctive relief filed by European Connections, agreeing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and TJC that IMBRA is a constitutional exercise of Congressional authority to regulate for-profit dating websites and agencies where the primary focus is on introducing Americans to foreigners. Additionally, the federal court specifically found that: "the rates of domestic violence against immigrant women are much higher than those of the U.S. population". The judge also compared background checks on American men to background checks on firearm buyers by stating, "However, just as the requirement to provide background information as a prerequisite to purchasing a firearm has not put gun manufacturers out of business, there is no reason to believe that IMBs will be driven from the marketplace by IMBRA".

Legal matters for mail-order brides in the United States Edit

Marriage agencies are legal in almost all countries. On January 6, 2006, the United States Congress enacted IMBRA., [98] which requires certain actions of some businesses prior to selling a foreign woman's address to a US citizen or resident or otherwise facilitating contact, including the following:

The Jamestown Brides: The untold story of England's 'maids for Virginia'

I struggle between a few things here. I loved the walk through local James River historic settings, Jennifer did a great job putting characters and events together.

What I struggle with is the sheer lack of material from which to write such a book. Don&apost get me wrong here, I&aposm very happy that Jennifer wrote this much needed book. There&aposs simply very little written about these Jamestown Brides, but at the same time, there&aposs just not much to write a 300+ page book. So Jennifer had to include so muc I struggle between a few things here. I loved the walk through local James River historic settings, Jennifer did a great job putting characters and events together.

What I struggle with is the sheer lack of material from which to write such a book. Don't get me wrong here, I'm very happy that Jennifer wrote this much needed book. There's simply very little written about these Jamestown Brides, but at the same time, there's just not much to write a 300+ page book. So Jennifer had to include so much of the other material in order to have enough content. As such, at times Jennifer becomes repetitive, such as in the case with Alice Boys, who gets mentioned a few times.

Again, I'm glad the book was written, especially since there is so very little work done specifically on the Jamestown Brides. Further, a book like this had to be done, because much of what has been said about those brides is often wrong. Potter does a wonderful job setting the record straight with the little information available.

So, overall, this is a nice addition to the 17th Century Virginia Library, and it's certainly a much needed improvement on most of what has been previously written to this point, even if it is too long. . more

The Indispensable Role of Women at Jamestown

Women at Governor Harvey's Jamestown industrial enclave, c. 1630. Detail from painting by Keith Rocco.

National Park Service, Colonial NHP

". the plantation can never florish till families be planted and the respect of wives and children fix the people
on the soil."

Sir Edwin Sandy, Treasurer
Virginia Company of London, 1620

THE LURE OF VIRGINIA - GOD, GLORY, AND GOLD: These were the forces that lured the first English settlers in 1606 to the new and untamed wilderness of Virginia. They carried with them the Church of England and the hopes to convert the Native Americans to Protestant Christianity. They wanted to establish an English hold on the New World and exploit its resources for use in the mother country. Some desired to find its fabled gold and riches and others longed to discover a northwest passage to the treasures of the Orient.

INITIAL LACK OF WOMEN: The settlers were directed by the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock commercial organization. The company's charter provided the rights of trade, exploration and settlement in Virginia. The first settlers that established Jamestown in 1607 were all male. Although some, like historian, Alf J. Mapp Jr. believe that ". it was thought that women had no place in the grim and often grisly business of subduing a continent. " the omission of women in the first group of settlers may simply mean that they were not, as yet, necessary.

REASONS BEHIND DELAY: The company's first priority in Virginia was possibly to build an outpost, explore and determine the best use of Virginia's resources for commercial profits. The exclusion of women in the first venture supports the possibility that it was an exploratory expedition rather than a colonizing effort. According to historian Philip A. Bruce, it is possible that had colonization not been required to achieve their commercial goals, the company might have delayed sending permanent settlers for a number of years.

ESTABLISHING PERMANENCY: Once the commercial resources were discovered, the company's revenues would continue only if the outpost became permanent. For Jamestown to survive, many unstable conditions had to be overcome.

  1. A clash of cultures existed between the Englishmen and the Native Americans with whom they soon found to need to trade as well as to Christianize.
  2. Settlers were unprepared for the rugged frontier life in a wilderness.
  3. Many settlers intended to remain in Virginia only long enough to make their fortune and then return home to England.

WOMEN'S INDISPENSABLE ROLE: Providing the stability needed for Jamestown's survival was the indispensable role played by Virginia women. Their initial arrival in 1608 and throughout the next few years contributed greatly to Jamestown's ultimate success. Lord Bacon, a member of His Majesty's Council for Virginia, stated about 1620 that "When a plantation grows to strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men that the plantation may spread into generations, and not be ever pieced from without."

CONTRIBUTIONS OF EARLY VIRGINIA WOMEN: The first woman to foster stability in Jamestown was not an English woman but a native Virginian. Pocahontas, the daughter of Chief Powhatan, was among the first Native Americans to bring food to the early settlers. She was eventually educated and baptized in the English Religion and in 1614 married settler John Rolfe. This early Virginia woman helped create the "Peace of Pocahontas," which for several years, appeased the clash between the two cultures.

One of the first English women to arrive and help provide a home life in the rugged Virginia wilderness was young Anne Burras. Anne was the personal maid of Mistress Forrest who came to Jamestown in 1608 to join her husband. Although the fate of Mistress Forrest remains uncertain, that of Anne Burras is well known. Her marriage to carpenter John Laydon three months after her arrival became the first Jamestown wedding. While Jamestown fought the become a permanent settlement, Anne and John began a struggle to raise a family of four daughters in the new Virginia wilderness. Certainly, Anne and her family began the stabilization process which would eventually spur the colony's growth.

Another young woman, Temperance Flowerdew, arrived with 400 ill-fated settlers in the fall of 1609. The following winter, dubbed the "Starving Time," saw over 80 percent of Jamestown succumb to sickness, disease and starvation. Temperance survived this season of hardship but soon returned to England. By 1619, Temperance returned to Jamestown with her new husband, Governor George Yeardley. After his death in 1627, she married Governor Francis West and remained in Virginia until her death in 1628. Her many years in Virginia as a wife and mother helped fill the gap in Jamestown's early family life.

In July 1619, settlers were granted acres of land dependent on the time and situation of their arrival. This was the beginning of private property for Virginia men. These men, however, asked that land also be allotted for their wives who were just as deserving ". because that in a newe plantation it is not knowen whether man or woman be the most necessary."

The Virginia Company of London seemed to agree that women were indeed quite necessary. They hoped to anchor their discontented bachelors to the soil of Virginia by using women as a stabilizing factor. They ordered in 1619 that ". a fit hundredth might be sent of women, maids young and uncorrupt, to make wives to the inhabitants and by that means to make the men there more settled and less movable. " Ninety arrived in 1620 and the company records reported in May of 1622 that, "57 young maids have been sent to make wives for the planters, divers of which were well married before the coming away of the ships."

Jamestown would not have survived as a permanent settlement without the daring women who were willing to leave behind their English homes and face the challenges of a strange new land. These women created a sense of stability in the untamed wilderness of Virginia. They helped the settlers see Virginia not just as a temporary place for profit or adventure, but as a country in which to forge a new home.


Navigating around Narragansett Bay had proved troublesome since the colonial era, the first ferry operation began in 1675 introduced an alternate to the long route around Providence, Rhode Island. Steam service in the West Passage began in 1888 and reduced travel times, but subject to weather conditions. In 1920, the first plans for the Jamestown Bridge began and it was stimulated by the Newport Ferry Company's financial troubles. In 1934, during the Great Depression, the State of Rhode Island sought funding from the United States federal government to construct bridges over both the West Passage and East Passage of the bay. The plans were well-supported and passed the Rhode Island House of Representatives by a 96-to-1 vote, and were approved by President Franklin Roosevelt. The minor opposition to the bridge's construction was quelled after the 1938 New England hurricane destroyed the ferry docks and one of the ferryboats on September 21, 1938, stopping ferry service. [1]

The bridge was designed by Parsons, Klapp, Brinckerhoff and Douglass and called for a 6,982-foot-long (2,128 m) bridge with 69 spans with a total cost of $3 million. The bridge was delayed by two months, but was completed for better than $100,000 under budget. A crew of nearly 200 constructed the bridge and the work was completed without a single fatality. This claim however is contested as a fatality took place during the construction of the coffer dams on September 18, 1939. [2] On July 27, 1940, the bridge opened for traffic and a 90 cent toll was charged on the North Kingstown side. The toll would later be reduced to 35 cents and 25 cents before being removed in 1969, following the completion of the Newport (Pell) Bridge. [1] A formal dedication of the bridge commenced on the weekend of August 2 through August 4, 1940, with a military marine parade on the final day. [3]

The bridge consisted of 69 spans with a large continuous cantilever Warren truss centerpiece. [1] The 600 ft (183 m) main span was 135 ft (41 m) above the western portion of the Narragansett Bay. The bridge was long thought to be a danger to motorists, consisting of only two undivided lanes, and during the summer months, the eastbound lane was usually at a standstill due to vacationers traveling to Newport via the main route from the mainland. Its steep climb proved challenging for some vehicles and with no passing lanes or shoulders, hazardous conditions resulted when stalled vehicles were on the bridge. The roadway deck through the cantilevered span was an open steel-grid deck, similar to that of the Castleton Bridge just south of Albany, New York, or the now-demolished Sikorsky Bridge on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. The deck proved to be extremely slippery when wet. After the bridge began to show structural problems with age, RIDOT began construction of the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge in 1985. The new bridge, which opened on October 8, 1992, includes four divided lanes of traffic with shoulders. [1]

The bridge is reported to have inspired fear in motorists because of its open grates, which allowed the motorists to peer down into the Narragansett Bay about 150 feet (46 m) below, and because the bridge would shake in high winds. [4] Head-on collisions on the 22-foot-wide (6.7 m) undivided bridge were reported to be common, and the steel grid pavement was noted as "treacherous" when wet. [5]

Why did 56 women become mail-order brides in colonial Jamestown?

“The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s ‘Maids for Virginia,’” by Jennifer Potter, tells the story of 56 women who left England to become brides for settlers in colonial Jamestown. Oxford University Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The name “Jamestown” evokes thoughts of Pocahontas, John Smith and the mystery of the Croatan. But according to author Jennifer Potter, there’s an equally fascinating part of the story that remains overlooked.

Potter wrote “The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s ‘Maids for Virginia’” (Oxford University Press, 384 pages, adult nonfiction). Her book tells the story of 56 women who were shipped to Jamestown, Virginia, as brides for the settlers in 1620.

Potter was doing research for another book when she happened across a mysterious article by English scholar David Ransome, “Wives for Virginia, 1621.”

“The bare facts of Ransome’s account . read like a sales catalogue, informing prospective husbands about the women’s parentage, upbringing and skills,” Potter said in an email interview with the blog From the Desk of Kurt Manwaring.

“Immediately, I wanted to know more,” she said. “Who were these brave young women prepared to travel into the unknown? What sort of lives were they leading in England? What happened to them when they reached the New World?”

Jennifer Potter, author of “The Jamestown Brides: The Story of England’s ‘Maids for Virginia.’” Provided by Jennifer Potter

Without access to the women’s journals, Potter searched for a way to tell the story without putting words in the mouths of her subjects.

Potter visited the same places the women lived — both in England and America. She carefully analyzed the merchant lists that documented the women’s transport. And she immersed herself as fully as possible into what is known of the culture of the times.

The resulting story is equal parts inspiration, tragedy and mystery.

The women ranged in ages from 15 to 28 and were of a higher social class than might be expected. One in six was either a gentleman’s daughter or related to gentry, Potter said. The parents of 25-year-old Cicely Bray from Gloucestershire, for example, were considered “gentlefolk of good esteem.”

The relative affluence of the women raises another important question: Why did they agree to the ordeal in the first place?

“A fascinating question that has no clear answer, I’m afraid,” Potter said. “The Virginia Company will undoubtedly have glossed over the risks they were taking.”

Virginia, Potter explained, was a very dangerous place back then, and most settlers died within their first few years.

According to Potter, the Virginia Company’s promise of a husband was attractive. Society expected all women to marry, but finding a mate was becoming harder and harder.

“But might some have traveled from a sense of adventure, too?” Potter asked.

She said only one of these brides’ testimonials has survived. Dated nine months before she set sail, the widowed Ann Richards’ testimonial “paints her as a woman of honest life and conversation, who was ‘minded and purposed to dwell elsewhere.’”

Regardless of motive, the women were likely shocked once they arrived in Jamestown. The tiny colony paled in comparison to the populated London they left behind, and the Virginia Company stacked the deck of potential husbands in favor of a relatively few “seasoned settlers.”

“The gentry women among the newcomers must have felt especially deceived,” Potter said.

Emotional considerations were soon set aside as the colony was attacked by Indians only three months after the maids arrived in Virginia. Those who survived faced drastically reduced supplies and, due to fear, were prevented from replanting outside their palisaded enclosures.

Potter has traced the final state of about one third of the women. Some of them were killed by Native Americans, and a few became servants to Virginia Company representatives.

Of those who found husbands, three married “ancient planters” — anyone who had arrived in the colony by 1616, Potter explained. At least two of these marriages produced children. Potter has been in touch with and even met some of these brides’ direct descendants.

“Ordinary women like these can truly claim their place among the founding mothers of America,” Potter said.

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  1. Marland

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  2. Samudal

    Which I didn't say.

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  4. Mathias

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  5. Vuran

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