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"First Thanksgiving" by Sidney King; photograph courtesy Berkeley Plantation.
“We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantacon, in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
-Capt. John Woodlief
The exact wording of Captain Woodlief’s prayer is known because the colonists’ sponsors had given a very specific list of 10 instructions to the settlers when they departed England. The very first instruction was upon landing that they give a prayer of Thanksgiving for their safe voyage and to do so annually and perpetually thereafter. John Smyth of Nibley, historian of the Berkeley family and of Berkeley Castle in England, recorded the settlement of Virginia from 1609 to 1622 through a collection of 38 papers and documents known as the Nibley Papers. These papers document and chronicle the Berkeley expedition and contain the prayerful Thanksgiving delivered by Captain Woodlief. The papers currently reside at the New York Pubic Library.
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued his Thanksgiving proclamation and supported a public day of thanksgiving for the country. Lincoln used his own Thanksgiving proclamation, exactly 74 years after Washington and also citing God Almighty as benefactor of the prayer. The observance became a national legal holiday in 1939 at the hand of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the early 1960s, Massachusetts native, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed Berkeley Plantation the site of the “first official Thanksgiving in America.”
What's New on the Website?
Click here for the Fall 2019 edition of the Jamestowne Society Magazine. Please note that the file is quite large and may take a bit of time to appear.
Jamestowne Society gives $75,000 to Jamestown Rediscovery at the
July 2019 Membership Meeting.
Jamestowne Society recognized as $150,000 donor to Jamestown Rediscovery in support of ongoing archaeology in and around the 1907 Memorial Church. Click here to read more.
Members of the Jamestowne Society are descended from early settlers who lived or held colonial government positions in Jamestowne, Virginia prior to 1700, or who invested in its establishment.
The Jamestowne Society was organized for educational, historical, and patriotic purposes. The Society has a range of activities, from visiting early American sites, providing an annual graduate fellowship for research on Colonial Virginia prior to 1700, funding the restoration of records, and supporting preservation of Colonial sites.
Want to learn more about Jamestowne during the period 1607-1700, the Jamestowne Society, and its members? You are in the right place!
New Qualified Ancestors:
A9737: Rolfe, Thomas b. 1615 Jamestown Resident, liv. 1670
A9735 Sir John Bourchier b. 1557/8 d. 1626 in England, Stockholder Virginia Company of London. His daughter Mary Bourchier married
Jabez Whitaker (A8703)
A9736 Jane Fareley/Farley Muster of 1624/5 wife of Thomas Fareley/Farley
William Lee A9733 d. 1703 Northumberland, 1693 (Burgess) and Cuthbert Span A9734 b. 1651 d. 1696 Northumberland, 1693 (Burgess) - Northumberland County was omitted from Leonard’s The General Assembly of Virginia 1619-1978 for the Fall session.
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Last Update: 28 November 2019