Captain John Smith: The Yeoman Background

Ian Beckwith describes how one of the chief first settlers of Virginia came from Lincolnshire farming stock.

The year 1976 not only marks the two hundredth anniversary of the Independence of the American Colonies. It is also the occasion of a less momentous anniversary in the history of the United States, but which has its place in the story and deserves to be recalled. Three hundred and eighty years ago, and one hundred and eighty years before the colonies declared themselves independent of the British crown, in the spring of 1596 there occurred the death, in the Lincolnshire village of Willoughby, of George Smith, husbandman.

This unremarkable occasion might have passed unnoticed in the history books, but for the fact that George Smith was father to John Smith, otherwise known as Captain John Smith of Virginia fame and the hero of the Pocahontas story. What can we learn of the family background from which John Smith sprang? What was his family’s standing in the community, its income and way of life and how did these contribute to John’s career.

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