Monday, September 8, 2014

Is your Ancestor on the Sea Venture Monument, St. George, Bermuda?

In 2009 Bermuda celebrated the 400th anniversary of the shipwreck of the Sea Venture.  In 1609 Sir George Somers and his company wrecked on a reef off Bermuda.  They were headed to Jamestown, but instead started a British settlement on Bermuda while they used the wood of the Sea Venture to build two smaller ships to continue their trip to Virginia.   The two new ships were the Deliverance and the Patience, and they were able to bring much needed food supplies to the starving, dying colonists at Jamestown.

The Sea Venture Memorial was unveiled in 2010.  This monument is a wooden cross mounted on a concrete column.  The shipwreck victims had originally built a wooden cross to claim Bermuda for England and King James I.   The monument has a plaque with the 50 confirmed names of the shipwreck survivors.  It is estimated that there were 150 sailors and settlers, and one dog, aboard the Sea Venture.   From this spot you can see the reefs where the wreck occurred, and you can also see Gates Bay where the survivors landed on Bermuda to start the new colony.

In 1958 Edmund Downing found the Sea Venture shipwreck in 30 feet of water off St. George.  The Smithsonian in Washington DC sent Mendel Peterson to verify the site.  They measured the timbers and unearthed a jug, pipe and vase to confirm that this was indeed the Sea Venture.

Here is a list of the survivor's names on the Monument:

Virginia Company Officers
           Lt. Thomas Gates
           Admiral Sir George Somers
           Captain Christopher Martin
           Rev. Richard Bucke
           Mistress Maria Thorowgood Bucke
           Mr. Thomas Whitingham

           Ralph Amour
           Mistress Horten
           Silvester Jordain, Esq.
           Henry Paine, Esq
           Capt. William Pierce
           Richard Rich, Esq.
           Samuel Shaw, Esq.
           Henry Shelley, Esq
           William Strachney, Esq.
           James Swift, Esq.
           Capt. George Yeardley, aide to Thomas Gates

           Henry Bagwell
           Humphrey Blount
           Jeffrey Briars
           Joseph Chard
           Edward Eason & Mistress Eason & baby Bermudas
           George Graves
           Thomas Godby
           William Hitchman
           Stephen Hopkins
           Elizabeth Jones
           Richard Lewis
           John Lytefoot
           Elizabeth Karson
           John Proctor
           Humphrey Reede
           John Rolfe & Mistress Rolfe & baby girl Bermuda

           Edward Waters
           Henry Ravens
           Robert Walsingham
           Richard Frobisher
           Nicholas Bennit
           Thomas Powell
           William Bryan
           Edward Chard
           Richard Knowles
           William Martin
           Francis Pearepoint
           Edward Samuel
           John Want
           Robert Waters
           Christopher Carter        

Some of the names on this monument are well known in American history.  Stephen Hopkins survived the shipwreck and then went on to be a colonist in Jamestown.  He returned to England and later was a passenger on the Mayflower to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.   John Rolfe lost his wife and baby girl, Bermuda, on the island of Bermuda but went on to Jamestown and married Pocahontas in April 1614.  Other shipwreck survivors went on to be famous in Bermuda history.  Sir Thomas Gates was the Governor for the Virginia colony.  Christopher Carter has many descendants still living on the island of Bermuda.

YouTube video of the dedication ceremony of the Sea Venture monument, where descendants read the names of the survivors inscribed on the plaques: project for descendants of the Sea Venture shipwreck, 1609   

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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I suspect that the Captain Christopher Martin listed as on of the Virginia Company officers may in fact be Captain Christopher Newport who actually captained the Sea Venture in 1609.

  2. It's Thanksgiving and we were browsing and found your site. My husband is the 10th great-grandson of Stephen Hopkins, thanks for sharing this information.

  3. We are descendants of Stephen Hopkins. We will be visiting Bermuda in May 2016. We'd love to visit this monument. Can you give us the address of a nearby location?

  4. Yes, it is in St George, near St. Catherine's Fort on the shore road.

  5. Yes, Edward Eason appears to be my great great.... Grandfather

  6. Yes, Edward Eason appears to be my great great... Grandfather

  7. Yes, Edward Eason appears to be my great great.... Grandfather

  8. I am the 10th great grandson of Thomas Powell, cook on the Sea Venture. He married Elizabeth Persons, maid to Mistress Horten (Horton), on Bermuda. I believe she is incorrectly listed as Elizabeth Karson in the colonist list.

  9. Yes, Henry Bagwell. He ended up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

  10. Yes, I'm related to Henry Bagwell. He eventually made his was to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

  11. John Proctor is my 10 ggrandfather. So proud of what he and his family did to establish Jamestown. He and wife, Alis, had great tragedy in their short, hard lives. Their 6 children carried on with the work of establishing many places in Virginia and the new western frontier.