Percy was part of the first group of 105 English colonists to settle the Jamestown Colony. He departed England in December 1606 and kept a journal of his voyage. He arrived in Virginia in April 1607 and recorded the struggles of the colonists to cope with the American environment, disease, and the Powhatan Native Indians. "Thus we lived for the space of five months in this miserable distress," he wrote in his journal, "not having five able men to man our bulwarks upon any occasion."
Although Percy had a higher social rank than all of the other first colonists, he was initially denied a seat on the Virginia Council. Nevertheless, he took the lead in the early life of the colony, taking part in the expedition to the James River falls in May and June 1607. In autumn 1607, he sided with the President of the colony, Edward Maria Wingfield, who was subsequently deposed by John Ratcliffe, Gabriel Archer, and John Smith. From late 1607 until autumn 1609, Percy had little power in Jamestown but served as Smith's subordinate.
When Smith left the colony in September 1609, Percy assumed the presidency of the colony. However, his persistent illness kept him from executing his office, leaving the duties of the presidency to Ratcliffe, Archer, and John Martin. It was during Percy's tenure that the colony suffered through the “Starving Time” in the winter of 1609-10. "Now all of us at James Town beginning to feel that sharp prick of hunger, which no man truly describe but he which hath tasted the bitterness thereof," he recounted later. Percy accomplished little while President, other than to order the construction of Fort Algernon at Old Point Comfort. When Sir Thomas Gates arrived in May 1610, Percy happily surrendered control of the colony to him.
In June 1610, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, arrived in Jamestown and with a commission to serve as the colony's governor. De La Warr appointed Percy to the council and named him captain of the Jamestown fort. In August 1610, De La Warr sent Percy and seventy men to attack the Paspahegh and Chickahominy Indians. The force ravaged the Indians' settlements on August 10th, burning their buildings, decimating their crops, and indiscriminately killing men, women, and children. This tactic, used by the Indians, proved most effective.
Percy also led the successful defense of James Fort against an Indian attack and earned the praise of De La Warr. When the Governor returned to England in March 1611, he appointed Percy to lead the colony in his absence. "But the winds not favoring them, they were enforced to shape their course directly for England--my lord having left and appointed me deputy governor in his absence, to execute martial law or any other power and authority as absolute as himself." Percy's term as Governor lasted until April 22, 1612, when he departed for England.
-John Graves, Jamestowne Society Communications Committee 2018-2019