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The History of Jamestown

In 1607 a three-ship flotilla of Englishmen set sail for America: the Susan Constant guided by a privateer captain, Christopher Newport with seventy-one passengers and crew, the Godspeed with fifty-two men aboard led by another experienced fighter Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, and the tiny Discovery with twenty-one men in the charge of John Ratcliffe. A third to a half the men on board were considered gentlemen; they eschewed physical labor. The Virginia-bound company also included a pastor, twelve artisans, a blacksmith, a mason, two bricklayers, four carpenters, a tailor, two barbers, and a surgeon; the rest of the men were unskilled laborers or ship's crew. All of them were seeking their fortunes and fulfilling the mandates of their sponsor, the London company: to locate sources of precious metals, find a river route to the Pacific, and make contact with and bring the Christian Gospel to the native population. The querulous ship's company included several pirates ("privateers") and veterans of European wars, one of whom was a practical and tough freebooter, a man not to be trifled with, John Smith.