Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather


Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe, Father of John Rolfe, Jr. Who Married Pocahontas

Birth: Oct. 17, 1562, Heacham, Norfolk, England
Death: Nov. 29, 1594, Heacham,  Norfolk, England (Age 32)
Buried:  Dec. 1, 1594, Heacham Church, Heacham, Norfolk, England

Norfolk County in which Heacham resides is known for its industry in Lavender.NorfolkEnglandLavendar

It is thought that settlers first came to Heacham as early as 3000 BC, drawn to the region to support the daily needs of the people. The river for fresh water, the sea for fish and shellfish, deer and other creatures from the deeply wooded area around. The name of Heacham arises from its l2th-century overlord Geoffrey de Hecham, and its river, the Hitch. Over the years speaking and spelling have become Heacham – meaning “The Home in the Thicket”. The settlement lay in a hollow, with the fall into it from north, south, and east. Here again, is evidence of passing historic ages, stone age, bronze age, including the Romans and the Normans.

The story of the Red Indian Princess, Pocahontas, and her romantic marriage to the son of the Lord of the Manor, John Rolfe, shined like a beacon in the early 1600s.

The earliest record of the Rolfe family direct line is two brothers, Robert and Eustace Rolfe, who were born at Heacham about 1539. Robert married Margaret Crowe and was an ancestor of a prominent family at Lynn, and Eustace Rolfe married at Heacham, May 27, 1560, Joanna Jenner. Eustace and Joanna had a son Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe, of Heacham, who was born October 17, 1562, married Dorothea Mason, Sept. 24, 1582, died in 1594, and was buried at Heacham Church, December 1st of that year.

HeachamVillage

The “First Common Market”

Heacham is a little known coastal village in the County of Norfolk between King Lynn’s–a Hanseatic town (engaged in an alliance of trading cities in the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period maintained a trade monopoly over most of Northern Europe and the Baltic) dating back to the 12th century and beyond when it was one of England’s most important ports–and Hunstanton.

Hunstanton Cliffs, Norfolk, England

Hunstanton Cliffs, Norfolk, England

Old Hunstanton village is of prehistoric origin and is situated near to the head of Peddars Way. In 1970, evidence of Neolithic settlement was found. The quiet character of Old Hunstanton remains distinct from and complements that of its busy sibling, with clifftop walks past a privately owned redundant lighthouse and the ruins of St. Edmund’s Chapel, built in 1272.  Heacham’s rich past has left a magnificent heritage of buildings and stories to be discovered. 

St. Mary's Church, Heacham, England

St. Mary’s Church, Heacham, England

The much-loved church of St Mary the Virgin was built in the 13th century, making the church the oldest building in the village.  It is a true reflection of the village’s history since it stands very much at the heart of the village.  The church is surrounded by many buildings made from local chalk, carrstone and a terracotta brick once manufactured in the village. Churches designed like St Mary the Virgin of Heacham, with a central tower built on the crossing, are a rarity in Norfolk as buildings designed in this manner required a strong foundation base using good strong building stone.  Buildings of this design often collapsed because of poor quality local stone.  Others were reduced in height, but St Mary’s has survived more than 800 years. The church belfry has circular openings on each side which appear small in proportion to the massive tower.  This particular feature of the church indicates its great age as belfry openings grew in size over time.  A cupola crowns the top and contains the original 12th-century bell – regarded as the oldest in East Anglia.  Glorious Byzantine style brass lanterns hang from the ceiling identical in design to those of the Basilica in  St Marks Square, Venice. Local legend has it that the Indian Princess, Pocahontas, worshiped at the church when she and John Rolfe returned with their young son, Thomas from Virginia to England.  Sadly, Pocahontas became ill and died in Gravesend, Kent aged 22. There is a legend that the very ancient Mulberry tree in the gardens of Heacham Hall – always known as the Pocahontas Mulberry tree – was planted at the time of the visit which John Rolfe and his wife paid to Heacham.

Following Pocahontas death, John Rolfe returned to his land in Virginia leaving their son Thomas in England for his formative years.  Thomas returned to Virginia in 1640 when he was about 25 years old. It is significant that a village in Virginia named Heacham dates from that time. Thomas Rolfe remained in America and married Jane, daughter of Francis Poythress, leaving issue an only daughter, Jane, from whose marriage to Colonel Robert Bolling, many eminent American families are descended. The forefathers of John Rolfe rest in Heacham Church and it is fitting that the tablet in memory of his wife Pocahontas should be placed just above those of his father John Rolfe and his mother Dorothy Rolfe. Coats of arms of prominent members of the Rolfe family are located inside the church. A sculpture of Pocahontas in Jacobean dress by Otilia Wallace, a pupil of Rodin hangs on the wall above a plaque dedicated to Johannes Eustacius Rolfe. The following is a translation of the original Latin inscription:

John Rolfe, gentleman, of Hitcham died on the twenty-nineth day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1594, in the thirty-second year of his age. While he lived he was of much service to his fellows; his wish to enrich all his neighbors and kinsfolk by assisting the poor with his wealth; nothing could be kinder than he was; he bore the insults of many men quietly without offence; by exporting and importing such things as England abounded in or needed, he was of the greatest service, inasmuch as he spent both pains and labor upon it. Thus he seemed to die as the force of fire is quenched by excess of water. For his strength was unimpaired, nor had he completed many years when he died. His death brought grief to many, but he had done nobly upon the consciousness of a well spent life, and the record of many benefits not allowed to die utterly: John Rolfe had, no doubt, been a successful merchant at Lynn. Rolfe had, with other issue, 1. Eustace, and 2. John (twins) baptized May 6, 1585; 3. Edward, baptized Feb, 22, 1591. There was another son, Henry, afterwards a merchant in London and a member of the Virginia Company, who is included in a manuscript pedigree mentioned by Mrs. Jones in her Old Sandringham.

While there isn’t much more to write about Johannes Eustacius Rolfe, we still can see the staying power of the Rolfe name on Heacham, King’s Lynn, Norfolk County, and England, as the map below shows several of the landmarks Rolfe’s family timesHeachamMapToday

9 thoughts on “Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather

  1. Pingback: Revisiting–Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather – Part Two | Our Heritage: 12th Century & Beyond

  2. Pingback: Revisiting–Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather | Our Heritage: 12th Century & Beyond

  3. Chris in Heacham who has studied this story for the fun exhibition in Heacham St Mary's church for 17 years-Colonial dames are visiting this coming Sunday

    The first tobacco plantations grown commercially in Jamestown in 1609 were introduced by John Rolfe from plants he probably found and collected from islands as they travelled across the Atlantic ocean iand stopped for water supplies-thought to be from Trinidad and the Orinocco
    seeds. The American Indians had their own local tobacco plants growing wild in their woods they used for special pipes smoking ceremonies that were bitter and not as mild as the new Virginia Plantation Orinocco tobacco that became their successful export trade from Jamestown Settlement to Europe that helped the English settlers to flourish. From his new Powhatan Indian relatives John leant better ways to dry cure and export these leaves.
    It is interesting that 400 years later the nicotine tobacco plant leaf is being used to develop new drugs for cancer treatments and for the ZMAPP new drug that has successfully treated some doctors and nurses from USA and the UK who caught the deadly EBOLA virus from the patients they were treating in West Africa in 2014.King James1 detested tobacco smoking and banned John Rolfe from visiting him at St James Palace so only Princess Pocahontas Rebeckah Rolfe was invited to attend the Twelfth night banquet on January 6th 1617 meeting Queen Anne and her consorts who performed a special masque play written by Ben Johnson called the Vision of Delight for King James I and his royal guests at the new year banquet.
    King James1 of England was also King James VI of Scotland that united the two countries in 1603.

    Last September 18th 2014 adults over 18 in Scotland were all given a vote of choice to become independent or to remain united with England that was the winner so this has continued.

    Like

  4. Chris in Heacham who has studied this story for the fun exhibition in Heacham St Mary's church for 17 years-Colonial dames are visiting this coming Sunday

    The first tobacco plantations grown commercially in Jamestown in 1609 were introduced by John Rolfe from plants he probably found and collected from islands as they travelled across the Atlantic ocean iand stopped for water supplies-thought to be from Trinidad and the Orinocco
    seeds. The American Indians had their own local tobacco plants growing wild in their woods they used for special pipes smoking ceremonies that were bitter and not as mild as the new Virginia Plantation Orinocco tobacco that became their successful export trade from Jamestown Settlement to Europe that helped the English settlers to flourish. From his new Powhatan Indian relatives John leant better ways to dry cure and export these leaves.
    It is interesting that 400 years later the nicotine tobacco plant leaf is being used to develop new drugs for cancer treatments and for the ZMAPP new drug that has successfully treated some doctors and nurses from USA and the UK who caught the deadly EBOLA virus from the patients they were treating in West Africa in 2014.King James1 detested tobacco smoking and banned John Rolfe from visiting him at St James Palace so only Princess Pocahontas Rebeckah Rolfe was invited to attend the Twelfth night banquet on January 6th 1617 meeting Queen Anne and her consorts who performed a special masque play written by Ben Johnson called the Vision of Delight for King James I and his royal guests at the new year banquet.
    King James1 of England was also King James VI of Scotland that united the two countries in 1603.
    Last September 18th 2014 adults over 18 in Scotland were all given a vote of choice to become independent or to remain united with England that was the winner so this has continued.

    Like

  5. Chris in Heacham who has studied this story for the fun exhibition in Heacham St Mary's church for 17 years-Colonial dames are visiting this coming Sunday

    Please share this new information with other Rolfe relatives and Dr William Kelso’s team at Jamestown as this is 2 significant primary evidence sources via the 1580 Rolfe bible that does contain a letter of explanation and the 1600 old map and mulberry tree legend needs following up with tree dating checks by dendrochronologists in England at Manor Hotel and contact with the Syon House gardeners oldest tree the home of the Duke of Northumberland’s family.

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  6. Chris in Heachjam who has studied this story for the fun exhibition in church for 17 years-Colonial dames are visiting this coming Sunday

    This month I contacted Williamsburg University Archive Library to enquire whether they had any information linked to the Heacham church 1617 Lecturn size bible that could possibly be the bible gift ‘legend’ says was given to Pocahontas from King James 1 in London that may have been presented to her son Thomas later in about 1625. Susan A Riggs replied she had no information about this but she sent photographs of the 1580 Geneva Rolfe Bible displayed at Jamestown for the recent April 400th Wedding Anniversary Celebrations in Jamestown with the Rolfe family Crest inside the bible that links it to Heacham. The bible was passed to John when his father died in 1594 and he took this Jamestown where he married Pocahontas on April 5th 1614. But when John Rolfe died in or before the Good Friday 1622 Massacre at Henricho the bible was looked after by Rev Seymour Landen whose descendant family kept this in Brooklyn because it somehow never reached his son Thomas Rolfe when he returned to his birthplace aged 25 in 1640 and so have passed this to the library.
    Also I checked last week the old 1600 Heacham orginal map at County Hall Map Archives in Norwich Norfolk England.This shows in large capitals above the four MANOR and Farm buildings the capital letters HEACHAM HALL GROUNDES whose buildings are now the MANOR HOTEL in 2014
    Outside the main entrance is a very old mulberry tree with fruit that now needs dating as THIS could be the mulberry tree that legend says Pocahontas planted on her ‘legend ‘visit in 1616 or 1617 with John Rolfe and Thomas The second brick Heacham Hall later building was not on this map so this Manor was probably the Rolfe’s HEACHAM HALL/MANOR home .It may have DNA links to the oldest 1548 mulberry tree in England at Syon House where Pocahontas stayed in their cottages nearby at Brentford after she became ill in London-so may have planted their seeds IF and when she visited-definitely worth checking by Kew Innovations Specialist Unit
    Last summer 2013 Boston Council across the WASH refurbished their oldest pub/inn called INDIAN QUEEN their town legend in Lincolnshire says is named after Pocahontas .A Recent Pocahontas Descendants 1987 book links the name to the INDIAN QUEEN in North Cornwall where Pocahontas and her husband John toddler Thomas and her brother/sisters stayed overnight in the pub/inn on route to London in 1616.Their ship the Treasurer had landed at Falmouth not Plymouth because of foul weather and so their road journey by horse and carriage took this route. I have not found any other early references to INDIAN QUEEN in England so both stories could be true and linked! Because her father Chief Powhatan was a newly crowned ‘king’ in North America via his copper gift crown from King James 1 .Princess Pocahontas inherited his titles land etc and would have been recognised as the next QUEEN that then passed on to Thomas Rolfe when she died in London at Gravesend -so it does all make sense

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