The Life of John Rolfe

By:Hope Gebhardt


In 1609, John Rolfe boarded a ship to sail to Virginia in search of a fourtune. He had no idea he would become part of American History. Rolfe had many dreams as a child, but mostly he just wanted to sail ships. Most of John's adventures were a small sail with no significancee,until he sailed with his first wife. Many people don't know a lot about John Rolfe, but what he is known most for is the Virginia Tobacco indrusty. John Rolfe helped to improve relations between the colonists and Indians. John Rolfe did many things throughout his life.

Adventure to Jamestown

Many people think of John Rolfe as just a man with a passion for sailing, but he was a lot more than that. Shortly after Rolfe was married, in the summer of 1609, John and his wife set out to seek fourtune in the new world. John, his wife, Captain Christopher Newport and 150 others boarded ship and set sail in hopes they would find fourtune on the banks of Virginia. Shortly after, they set sail, the ship found itself unable to make it through the enormous winds of a hurricane and became shipwrecked about 700 miles of shore from Jamestown, on the island of Bermuda. While stranded on the island of Bermuda, John's wife gave birth to a daughter, who they named Bermuda. Shortly after her birth, not only did Bermuda become ill and die, but so did John's wife. John spent the next several months, along side the rest of the castaways trying to find a way to finish their journey to Virginia. They managed to build two small ships from the material of the broken ships and in May of 1610, sailed onto the shore of Jamestown. It was there that John Rolfe would spend the next several years.

Tobacco Industry

While living among other colonists in Jamestown,John lived off the land and grew tobacco for his pipe in a small garden of his own. After some time a sea captain,whose name still remains unknown, gave Rolfe several different flavored tobacco seeds. John very much liked the taste of the flavored tobacco,so he began to grow more and more of it. Eventually, John had managed to grow enough that he was able to allow others to also try the different favors of tobacco. They too liked the many different flavors and there became a great demand for tobacco. John was able to turn his small garden of tobacco into a cash crop,purchase more land,grow mor tobacco and sell even more. John Rolfe's tobacco Indrusty, known as " Virginia Tobacco" helped save the colony and bring it prosperity. Today,hundreds of years later, it is still the states leading crop.

Relationships between the Colonists and Indians

Shortly after his tobacco Indrusty began to do well, John Rolfe met a young Indian Princess, who had been kidnapped from her tribe and brought to Jamestown for ransom. Her name was Pocahontas. John instantly took a liking to the princess and began helping her with her English lessons and read to her from the Bible. Eventually,Pocahontas became a Christian and was baptized with the Christian name Rebecca. It didn't take John long to realize that that he was in love with the beautiful Pocahontas and he offered her a marriage proposal. Pocahontas, or Rebecca as she was now known, sent a message to her father chief Powhatan regarding the proposal. In 1614, with the Indian chiefs permission John and Rebecca were married. They began their life together living in the Jamestown colony and eventually had a son, who they named Thomas Rolfe. Around 1617, John and his new family set sail back to England. John's quickly growing tobacco industry became known outside of America and had received many orders for his many different flavors of tobacco. He planned to introduce his new wife and son to still in England while delivering his tobacco products to his customers. While in England Rebecca became ill with smallpox and died. Heartbroken, John left young Thomas in England with his brother and his family and began the journey back to Jamestown to continue growing his industry. Though we don't know much about her, we do know that after returning to Jamestown John did marry for a third time. He settled Back into life with this new wife and countinued to produce numerous floors of tobacco for the ever growing industry. It was shortly after this that, John Rolfe was killed during a massacre, in which Indians attacked across the colonies. John was killed by the tribes led by his second wife,Pocahontas's wife.


John Rolfe had simply set sail to find an unknown fourtune. He found this fourtune in flavored tobacco, which he flourished into one of America's leading industries still n exhistence today. He went on to be a major influence in improving relations between the Indians and colonists. He did this simply by falling in love. The young man who stepped onto that boat back in 1609 with unknown prospects ahead had no idea his name and life story would be read and studied by students for years to come. John Rolfe made a huge mark in American History.


World book online- John Rolfe

The Virginia Colony-by: Dennis B. Fradin

All about the author

My name is Hope Gebhardt. I enjoy playing softball with my cousins. I take dance. I am an only child. I like hanging out with my friends and sleeping over with my friend's and cousins.