November 11, 1684
Three hundred and thirty nine years ago today crew members aboard the salve hauling ship, Booth spotted several red buoys that marked the entrance to a large bay, and tacked to its port side pointing them in a direct line towards the dying settlement of Jamestown, Virginia Colonies. She carried fifty four headrights, eleven seasoned crewmen, and Captain Peter Pagan, one of the finest captains to ever sail the Passage from England to North America.
Most of the headrights were destined to work four years of servitude, growing tobacco on the plantation of Dr. Richard Kennon. The remaining headrights would be put on display and sold to the highest bidder, desperately in need for laborers or servants.
It is written in Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant that the Kennon plantation was in such need of help that they purchased the contracts for all of the headrights, less a few that were not acclimated to manual labor.
When the ship anchored in the large bay, a boat with oarsman had departed the settlement in Jamestown to meet Captain Pagan and welcome him to his terminus. They assured him that supplies would be delivered should he be short of rations, and advised him that a message had been delivered to Kennon that all indentured servants were alive and acounted for.
At any rate, Captain Pagan had delivered another cargo of headrights and his four month journey across the Atlantic Ocean had been timed to perfection. They had left Manito with strong north westerly winds blowing into their larboard sails and after a twenty day sprint, made landfall on November 1. They kept sight of land and followed the coast line of the Outer Banks, North Carolina for two weeks, until they finally spotted the Jamestown settlement.
It was a bittersweet moment for Captain Peter Pagan. His cargo was delivered, but now he must bid farewell to Bartholomew Stovall, a nineteen year old young man who had left a lasting impact on this seasoned sailor.
November 1, 1684
The short passage below was taken from Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant. It details the culmination of a four month voyage escorting fifty four headrights, crew and Captain from The Port of London to their first sighting of mainland America.
It was not in the light of day that they would arrive in America, but in the dark of night. As the cold winds pierced through the closed porthole windows, the night watchman shouted, “Land! Land! Land!”
Within seconds, the ship stopped as if a bird had dropped to the ground in midflight. Without making headway, heavy waves tossed the boat around like a child playing with a toy. Loud noises were heard on the main deck as the crew worked feverishly to secure the craft from floating about. Suddenly, the long, continuous sound of metal on metal was prevalent.
“We’re dropping the anchor,” Bartholomew said, looking at Will, then up to Mary.
After a while, Bullard made his way down the steps into the tween decks. When he reached the bottom, he took off his hat and looked at the crowd and half admitted, “Well . . . we seen land . . . I think. The lookout swears he saw a fire in the distance. We won’t know for certain until the sun rises in the east. We’re gonna rock about all night so try not to get sick. The water is cold, so swabbing the deck won’t be so refreshin’ this time.”
Having said this, Bullard made his way up the steps and closed the hatch, leaving all those below more anxious than they had been since leaving London four months prior.
“We’re here,” Bartholomew said, speaking to himself. “We’ve arrived in America.”
The ship had left The Port of London on July 7, 1684 and followed the trade winds south, first stopping at Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Canary Islands to take on supplies. They proceeded south, southwest for the longest leg of the voyage until they arrived in the West Indies. It was a three week jaunt that carried them past Dominica, Guadeloupe, Nevis, Virgin Islands, Mona, and finally Monito until they restocked and readied their ship for the final sprint north until they finally found the North American mainland at the Outer Banks, North Carolina.
As noted above, the crew had to wait until sunrise before they could be assured that they had reached their destination, but when the sun broke in the east all aboard the Booth were summoned to the main deck to gaze at the most breathtaking view of greenery any had ever witnessed. The virgin land of North America lay to their west, with perfectly blue skies and a fresh breeze that made all forget, for a moment, the horrid passage they had finally completed. For a brief moment they took leave of their reluctant state and gazed at the beauty that was the New World. Finally they had arrived in America.