Pocahontas Was Married Right Here!

Published:November 28, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe

A news report over the holiday tells us that William Kelso, the archaeologist who discovered the fort at Jamestown and wrote about it in Jamestown: The Buried Truth (2008), is now “certain” he has discovered the site of the church where the minister Richard Bucke married Pocahontas and John Rolfe. She was “married right here, I guarantee,” Kelso said.

Kelso suggests that this discovery is significant both because everything associated with Pocahontas is considered significant and because the Jamestown church represents the oldest known site of a Protestant church in America. Two others may have been built earlier, but they disappeared without a trace. Then, as a bit of a non sequitur, Kelso adds: “It’s fantastically exciting and significant because Jamestown is usually depicted—the whole early settlement depicted—as it was carried out by lazy gentlemen who wanted to get rich quick, and go right back to England.”

That being said, the article suggests that Pocahontas was an “Indian princess”—she was not—and appears to be confused about who it was she married. (It was Rolfe, of course, but she had been married previously to a man named Kocoum. After Pocahontas’s capture by Samuel Argall, her marriage to the Indian, by custom, was deemed void.) The article also notes that Pocahontas died in England “at the tender age of 21.” Regardless of there being nothing tender about that age in 1617, Pocahontas’s exact birth year has never been known.

These are quibbles. Best to click the link and soak up Kelso’s excitement. “I guarantee!”

UPDATE: One of our editors here points me to a much, much, much better article on the church site in the New York Times.

IMAGE: A nineteenth-century child’s jigsaw puzzle creates an image of the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe in 1614 (Virginia Historical Society)