Back From the Future – Part 3 (With John Rolfe and Pocahontas)


I wish to thank my dear friend, retired College Lecturer, and fellow Pocahontas research enthusiast, Christine Dean, for her ongoing updates about happenings in and around her hometown of  Heacham, Norfolk, England.  From her undaunting energy and perseverance while delving into local legends about Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I am able to bring you new posts that allow us to travel back from the future and into the past based on new details and discoveries provided to me with the help of Christine in our present day.

So let’s begin Part 3 of this journey back from the future in the year 1597.  Here, we find John Rolfe, age 12, living at Heacham Hall with his mother Dorothea Mason Rolfe Redmayne, (who had been widowed in 1594 at the death of John’s father (Sir Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe), and with his stepfather,  Dr. Robert Redmayne (since his mother’s marriage to him in 1595).  Robert Redmayne had been Chancellor at Norwich Cathedral since 1588.  His chancellorship went on to span 37 years and five bishops including a family relative, Bishop William Redman (1595-1602), who chose to spell his name as it sounded. It would be only 12 years later when the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration records would show that John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.  In fact, pages 15-21 of this reference include the persons aboard the Sea Venture, which left Britain in 1609 for Jamestown but was wrecked off Bermuda. And, specific names appear on pages 16 and 17, with genealogies of some of the passengers on succeeding pages.

Six years later in 1615, biographical histories have documented a visit to Heacham Hall in Norfolk County, England, by John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas, and their infant son Thomas Rolfe.  This visit lasted nearly two years–from early June 1615 until March 1617.  Unfortunately Pocahontas died in January 1617, leaving her husband, John, a widow with their two-year-old son, Thomas.  Shortly after Pocahontas’ death, John Rolfe departed England to return to Jamestown, Virginia.  John left his son, two-year-old Thomas, in London, in the care of Sir Lewis Stukley.  Upon Sir Lew Stukley’s death in 1620, Thomas’ guardianship was transferred to John  Rolfe’s, two-years’ his junior, younger brother, Henry Rolfe, until Thomas was 21.  And in 1635, passenger and immigration records show that Thomas Powhatan Rolfe arrived in Virginia.

But Wait, Our Story in England Isn’t Yet Finished–We’re Gonna Be Talk’n ‘Trees’

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) Picture: Chris Bishop

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor. Picture: Chris Bishop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heacham Manor Hotel 3

Today’s luxurious Heacham Manor Hotel

A four hundred year old legend exists.  It tells of the Rolfe’s now infamous visit to Heacham Village and adds trees into the mix of our family’s history–and not branches of our ancestry tree. But, literally a living mulberry tree and its branches.  A tree that Pocahontas is said to have planted at Heacham Hall during her stay there.  And today, 400 years later, the manor and villagers say this same mulberry tree  remains and is thriving beside the Heacham Manor Hotel main entrance.  

But wait–what if this mulberry tree could talk–what might it tell us?

Palace of WhitehallPrincess Pocahontas is said to have visited Queen Anne and King James I on Twelfth Night 6th January 1617 at their Palace of Whitehall in London.  They had a garden that had nine mulberry trees and they were giving away 1000+ mulberry seeds to all their noble friends, who they encouraged to plant them to grow trees for medicine, healthy food, drink, and wine and to cultivate silkworms for spinning silk from which new shirts could be made.  So, the question remains “could the Heacham mulberry tree seeds have come from King James I’s and Queen Anne’s Buckingham Palace Gardens?”

Syon House and ParkSyon Park also in London has about 200 acres (Thames-side near Isleworth), and includes the Syon House. This estate has been owned by Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland,  and his ancestors for about 400 years. Syon House was the  home of the 9th Duke of Northumberland’s family and Earl George Percy  was a President /Governor at Jamestown in 1609-1610 and his brother ‘Wizard Earl’ alchemist expert Henry Percy.  Henry Percy remounted  Pocahontas pearl wedding earrings with  silver clasps when she visited him at the Tower of London in 1616. Syon House  has the oldest surviving mulberry tree in England dating back to 1548 and growing in the meadow where Pocahontas stayed in their two cottages close by at Brentford after she became ill in London.  Could this tree be the parent tree to the one in Heacham?

Mulberry Tree Red Lodge Country HouseAnother old mulberry tree grows on the estate of Narford Hall that is situated in the Breckland District of Norfolk County, in the garden at the  Red lodge Country House behind the wooden seat–this was the home of John Rolfe’s  stepfather’s family, the Redmayne’s.  It possibly dates back to a 1643 gift from King Charles 1.  Further, Uncle Edmund Rolfe also lived at Narford Hall with his son Henry and grandson Francis.  Princess Pocahontas’ might had picked up seeds or truncheon twigs from this tree to plant at Heacham Hall.  Princess Pocahontas probably commuted between Heacham and other England vicinities by carriages, possibly changing horses at relatives’ stables in Narford Hall.

The map of England’s Norfolk County from 1658, below, is the best I could find to try to show where the Rolfe and Redmayne farming families would have traded in their ships, horses and carriages along the yellow River Nar that flows from Kings Lynn to several major ports at Waterbeach Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Isle of Ely, and the Royal Boston port.  The tidal water is highlighted in  grey.

Norfolk England Map 1658

Cottrell Joan

Dr. Joan Cottrell

Dr Kevn Burgess Columbus St Univ GA

Dr. Kevin Burgess

In just a few weeks, (sometime in May 2017), when the fresh mulberry leaves at the luxury country house Heacham Manor Hotel (formerly Heacham Hall) are mature enough, Dr. Joan Cottrell of the Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, UK, and Dr. Kevin Burgess of Columbus State University, Georgia, USA will take a six-inch branch from this tree to conduct DNA testing of it and compare it to branches from three other very old mulberry trees.  It is hoped this will lead to finding a DNA connection between the Heacham Manor Hotel’s tree and three other very old mulberry trees identified in the UK – at Buckingham Palace, Syon House in West London and Narford Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk, where it is thought Pocahontas might have visited and collected seeds from one of them.  This research could establish whether any of these three other trees are forebears of the Heacham tree–which today is still producing delectable fruit that is served on the menu at Heacham Manor.

As I understand it (in very lay persons terms), one chromosome passes from a mother tree to a child tree.  By analyzing clippings, scientists can sometimes detect a matching digital DNA barcode.  Ultimately, this process might identify and connect a species of seeds to this mulberry tree to help corroborate the story of Pocahontas’ mulberry tree planting in Heacham Village!

Immigration — A Hot Topic!


The Joy of Discovering New Information

Some of you may know that I am a retired career employee from the U.S. Census Bureau.  I love my family and sharing the statistics and data that make up my heritage, family history, and the perpetual stories that keep coming from new discoveries.   Although retired now for nearly five years, I keep active with the newest and finest technologies, video graphics, and live charts.  I want people to enjoy, visualize and better understand past times and changes in the world over time as they may have related to their families and mine.

As far back as 2010, I first shared one of my visualization idol’s videos:  200 Countries, 200 Years–The Joy of Stats created by my peer and former national colleague from Statistics Sweden, and now renowned spokesperson Dr. Hans Rosling.  Hans and his son, Ola, built Gapminder, a software application that allows you to input raw statistics and automate them into meaning infographics.  Dr. Rosling has now produced many exceptional videos and made hundreds of live data presentations which he shares regularly on YouTube and at the TED conferences, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give talks about their specialties in 18 minutes or less.

Who And What is Metrocosm?

Much like Dr. Rosling, Max Galka, is a twenty-something New Yorker, an entrepreneur and all around data geek, and a Huffington Post contributor. Max built his Metrocosm website to focus on the graphical and storytelling side of data and to use it to offer new perspectives on familiar topics that analyze life through statistics and data.

And, just a few days ago on Facebook, I came upon Max’s recent interactive map that remains a hot topic in the news on the presidential campaign trail–Immigration.

This map focuses on about two centuries of immigration (from 1820 to 2013), and illustrates how 79 million people migrated to the United States to get lawful permanent resident status. It visualizes emigrants based on their earlier country of residence, and the brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. at a given time.  Each dot represents 10 thousand people.  And what I noted first was for the first 70 years, immigrants arrived from three countries only:  Ireland, Germany, and the United Kingdom (which includes the British Isles).  In 1892 you see Italy joins the top three countries and about 10 years later, Russians and Hungarians start arriving.  It wasn’t until the 1950’s that we start to see Mexican, Cuban, and Filipino’s immigrating.

As for the numbers of emigrants arriving–we first noticed in 1820 about 130,000 immigrants.  In 1840, the number rose to just over 1.4 million; by 1850 the numbers doubled in that 10-year-span to 2.8 million.  Then in 1880, there were 5.2 million, or nearly double again, though this time it was within a 30 year span. Twenty years later, immigration levels rose to 8.2 million.  They dropped by 2 million during the WWI period; and dropped by another 2 million in the early Roaring 20’s. With the onset of the Great Depression the number dropped below 1 million again to only about 700,000. Post WWII immigration jumped back up to 2.5 million.  For 1960-69,  there were 3.2 million ; 1970-79, 4.2 million; 1980-89, 6.2 million; 1990-99, immigration peaked at 9.9 million, then rose again starting in 2000-2009 to 10.3 million; and in 2010-2013, the number of emigrants dropped dramatically to  4.1 million. Immigration from Mexico has been a constant country listed in the top three countries emigrating since 1970; as has “Other Asian” countries since 1980 (which excludes the Philippines because it was included separately.  And, as late as 2000, the graph shows China among the top three countries whose people migrated to the U.S.

I’d like to say I had answers for why people from certain countries chose to migrate to the United States at certain times, but I’d rather hear comments from my readers about why they think people from the various countries chose to come to America when they did.  Too, it would be interesting to see how many Americans out migrated to other countries in a parallel graphic.  I think I’ll contact Max to see what he has to say about preparing one for us.  I’ll let you know when I hear back.