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
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
Edward Eason & Mistress Eason & baby Bermudas
John Rolfe & Mistress Rolfe & baby girl Bermuda
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:
Geni.com project for descendants of the Sea Venture shipwreck, 1609
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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo