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Jane Banner

How did Jane get to Jamestown?

She survived a hurricane before she faced trials on the frontier of an English settlement.

There were no women among the first Jamestown colonists in 1607. Jamestown was a military settlement built to explore for saleable commodities and to establish England's claim in the New World. The first two English women came to Jamestown in the Second Supply fleet in October 1608.

Women are next recorded arriving in the colony in August 1609. They left England as part of the biggest supply fleet ever sent the colony: seven ships and two small vessels called pinnaces bringing the new deputy governor Sir Thomas Gates and hundreds more settlers. A hurricane smashed the fleet shortly before it reached Virginia. Supplies were ruined, one of the pinnaces sank, and the Sea Venture wrecked upon the Bermuda reefs. Thirty-two people from two of the ships are said to have died en route and were buried at sea. Two women aboard the Unity reportedly gave birth during the voyage, but both newborns died.

The remains of the fleet limped into Jamestown with many passengers sick or dying. The Diamond arrived with individuals suffering from the plague. But according to Gabriel Archer, who was aboard the Blessing, there was no illness on his ship that carried "twenty women and children." Given the archaeological context of where Jane's remains were found in James Fort, she was likely one of the women arriving with this battered fleet.

Sir Thomas Gates

Portrait of Sir Thomas Gates courtesy of the Bermuda Archives

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