Capt. William Powell

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William Powell

Birthdate: (45)
Birthplace: St. Olave Parish, Surrey, England
Death: January 20, 1623 (41-49)
Chickahominy, Virginia (Killed fighting Indians)
Immediate Family:

Son of Hugh Powell and Ann Powell
Husband of Margaret Powell and Elizabeth Powell
Father of William Powell; Alice Warren and George Powell
Brother of Governor Nathaniel Powell (Ap Howell); Thomas Powell, Sr.; Andrew H Powell (Ap Howell); James Powell (Ap Howell) and Robert Powell

Occupation: Captain
Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Capt. William Powell

William Powell was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619. Shortly after the massacre in 1622, Sir George Yeardly, Captain William Powell, and Captain Richard Butler each took a company and joined forces to avenge the deaths of their friends and relatives. They destroyed everything they could find, and returned to Jamestown, where they stayed a month, quartered at Kecoughtan. (See Smith's "History of Virginia", pp. 24, 212, 594)(

Captain William Powell and all of his family were murdered in the terrible massacre of 1623, when so many of the Colonists lost their lives. It was thought that one of his sons, George, escaped, but he was not heard from afterwards; and, because no heir appeared to inherit the estate, his lands were returned to Governor Berkley, who deeded it to Captain Henry Bishop in 1646.

William was described as a man of character and worth, a gentleman of great name and fortune, a trusted friend of John Smith, one of the largest planters in the colony.

He was said to have made several merchant trips to Barbados and Jamaica.

Residences & events:


12/19/1606 Blackwell, Eng. William sailed aboard ship with Capt. John Smith either on the Godspeed, Discovery, or the Sarah Constant, there was a William Powell on each of them.

4/20/1607 Chesapeake, VA, just below Jamestown. The ship arrived in America.

Another source states: "Capt Powell and his first wife, Elizabeth Welles, came to America aboard the ill-fated "Sea Venture" which was shipwrecked in Bermuda in 1609. The ship became wedged between two rocks that kept it from sinking. From the wreckage and from timber from the island, they were able to construct two smaller ships and continue on to Virginia in 1610." It is difficult to say what actually took place considering the next item.

1611 William crisscrossed the ocean often, returning to America with Sir Thomas Gates on the Sea Venture.

10/20/1617 From the records of the Virginia Company of London: "Appointment of Wiilliam Powell, captain of guards belonging to the governor and lieutenant-governor and commander of James Town."

1618 William's name appeared in a listing by the above company of "Adventurers to Virginia" with the Several Amounts of their Holding. He had property worth 25 (pounds).

He owned a "200 acre tract in the Territory of Tappahannock (Rappahannock?) over against James City, VA," and another 550-600 acres in the same vicinity. His plantation across the river from Jamestown was called Chipokes and is now a state park with some

original buildings still standing.

From history is the following:

    "Captaine William Powell prefented to the Affembly a petition to have juftice againft a lewde and trecherous servante of his who by falfe accufation given up in writing to the Governor fought not only to gett him depofed from his government of James citty and utterly (according to the Proclamation) to be degraded from the place and title of a Captaine, but to take his life from him alfo.  And fo out of the faid Petition fprang this order following:  'Captaine William Powell prefented a Petition to the generall Affembly againft one Thomas Garnett, a servant of his, not only for extreame neglect of his bufineff to the great loft and prejudice of the laid Captaine, and for openly and impudently abufing his house, in fight both of Mafter and Miftreffe, through wantonnes with a woman fervant of theirs, a widdowe, but alfo for falfely accufing him to the Governor both of Drunkenes & Thefte, and betiides for bringing all his fellow fervants to teftifie on his side, wherein they juftly failled him.  It was thought fitt by the general affembly (the Governor himfelfe giving fentence), that he should ftand fower dayes with his eares nayled to the Pillory, viz:  Wednesday, Aug. 4th, and fo likewife Thurfday, fryday, and Satturday next following, and every of thofe lower dayes should be publiquely whipped.  Now, as touching tim neglecte of his worke, what fatisfaction ought to be made to his Mr for that is referred to the Governour and Counfell of Eftate.'"

And again:

"This day alfo did the Inhabitants of Pafpaheigh, alias Argall's towne, prefent a petition to the general affembly to give them an abfo-lute difchardge from certaine bondes wherin they ftand boung to Captina Samuell Argall for the paymt of 600G, and to Captin William powell, at Captaine Argall's appointment, for the paymt of 50G more. To Captaine Argall for 15 fkore acres of wooddy ground, called by the name of Argal's towne or Pafpaheigh; to Captaine Powell in respect of his paines in clearing the grounde and building the houfes, for wch Captaine Argal ought to have given him fatisfaction. Nowe, the general affembly being coubtful whether they have any power and authority to difchardge the Faid bondes, doe by there prefents (at time Inftance of the laid Inhabitants of Pafpaheighs, alias Martin's hundred people) become molt humble futours to the Trefurer, Confell and Company in England that they wilbe pleafed to gett the faid bondes for 600G to be cancelled; forasmuche as in their great comiffion they have expreffly and by name appointed that place of Pafpaheigh for parle of the Governor's lande. And wheas Captain William Powell is payde this 50G wch Captain Argall enjoined the faide In-habitantes to prefente him with, as parte of the bargaine, the general affembly, at their intreaty, do become futours on their behalfe, that Captaine Argall, by the Counfell & Company in England, may be compelled either to reftore tim laid 50G from thence, or elfe that reftitu-tion therof be made here out of the goods of the laid Captaine Argall."

From the Court Bk - 4/28/1619-5/8/1622

"The Petition of Cap' Powell and m' John Smith beinge presented by their brother Prouest Marshall of Middlesex to have graunt of the Company 400 Acres of Land for fiftie pounds Adventure betwixt them vizd, One hundreth lyinge in one pcell between the Sunken Marsh one the other side the River against James Citty Land, and Choapooks Creek, and one pcell of Marsh Land conteyninge 200 Acres called Hogg Iland, The Court held itt inconvenyent to graunt Land in that kinde, pickt out by the Plante" themselves not knowinge who all-redie may lay clayme thervato or othersiwe how necessary itt may be for the publique; Butt m' Treasurer in regard of the good affection declared by their brother to the Companies service hath promised to write to the Governor that the said 400 Acres shallbe well sett out for them and to their Content wth reason."

4/26/1619 There was a letter written to Sandys concerning needing "counsellors" for the court in which it stated: " Capt Powell and Mr Macok dwelling at Charles Hundred 40 miles fro(m) James towne it is a very great troble for them vpon all ocations to come away fro(m) theire p(ri)vate workes to attend herevpon the publike, yett in truth I find the(m) both willing to spare what tyme they can for the publike...."

7/30-8/4/30/1619 He sat in the first House of Burgess Assemby as a representive of James City Co, VA,

It was then that he learned of the Indian's plot to massacre the colonists.

5/9/1621 Again from records of the Virginia Company of London: "Geo. Tharp and Mr. John Pory: A letter to Sir E Sandys. Complaints against Powell and Madison." Tharp and Pory sent a series of letters to Sandys about various things concerning VA including the Indians, commodities, and "perplexities of government."

6/12/1621 He wrote a long letter to Sandys concerning a difference between himself and Gov Yeardly, even quoted some Latin and signed it "Wil Powell." But shortly after the above Tharp and Prory wrote in one of their letters that Powell and Yeardley had reconciled, had Sacrement, and wanted the matter buried.

1/20/1623 Severel men were sent out on expeditions to revenge the massacre of Gov Powell and the rest. William was sent to the Chocohominy tribe.

William was killed by Indians between 1/20-23/1624.

Upon his death a younger brother, also named William, filed a petition from England to claim the Capt's estate but it wasn't until 1650 when Capt William's son, George, died that the younger William inherited anything. (The younger William's last name was Powerr in the original petition.)

As late as 6/24/1625 the Virginia Company of London had references to William in their records On this date there were questions concerning one Capt Jones who had arrived in a leaky Spanish frigate from the west indies with depleted supplies stating "there are rumors risen contrairie to theire first examinations, of mutynies and disorders committed by Joanes and some of his company against Capt. Powell, of wch we may have more light from England...."

At the time he himself was killed, he was acting administrator of Nathaniel Powell's estate, leaving settlement to others.

William AP Powell was born Abt. 1574 in St Olave Parish, Surrey Co, England131, and died 1624. He married Elizabeth Wells.

Notes for William AP Powell:

This is probably the first POWELL in America. From Colonial Families of the US...The first appearance of the name of Powell in Va is found in Smith's "History of VA". Capt Wm Powell sailed with Capt John Smith from Blackwell,, 12-19-1606 (age fits) and entered Chesapeake Bay 4-20-1607. He represented James City in the 1st House of Burgess of VA in Jamestown, 7/30/1619.

His 2 sons were living in Lancaster in 1660.

William and his brother, Stephen came to VA in the expedition headed by Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers in 1610. Sir Stephen and Capt William were subscribers to the 2nd charter of the VA Company of London.

They sailed from Plymouth, England in 1609 in the ill-fated ship "Sea Adventurer" which was wreaked on the Bermuda Islands, and whose history written by Strachy & published in London in 1610, was the foundation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest". The ship wrecked crew constructed 2 small vessels from the timbers of the wreacked ship. They were called "Patience" & "Deliverance", with which they arrived at the starving colony of Jamestown in May 1610, just before the arrival of Lord DeLaWarre, the new governor. After the great massacre Capt William & Sir George Yeardley commanded 2 expeditions to chastise the savages and an interesting account of this in given in John Smith's "True Relations". He was killed by the Indians on the Chiccahominy river in 1623-4.

William was an early Jamestown emmigrant. The record isn't clear whether WILLIAM POWELL's first emigration trip was in 1607 or 1608. In one account, the first appearance of the name POWELL in Virginia is found in Smith's History of Virginia. Captain William sailed from Blackwell , England (one of 105 men and boys) with his "trusted friend" John Smith on 19 Dec 1606 with the three Captain Christopher Newport ships, "Susan Constant," "Godspeed," and "Discovery " which entered Chesapeake Bay on 20 Apr 1607 and arrived at the location of future Jamestown site on 13 May 1607, or possibly on the "Sea-Venture" or "Mary and Margaret", arriving as the first wave of colonists in the new American continent in 1607, the year of the founding o f Jamestown in what later would become the United States of America. Both he and his wife, El izabeth Welles were also in the 3rd supply of 23 May 1610 after the ill-fated "Sea Venture" ship wrecked on a Bermuda offshore reef. Most accounts allude to Captain Nathaniel, William's brother, being beheaded by the Indians in the Great Massacre of March 22, 1622 (where 350 were killed and the population dropped to 1050). Then the ship "Abigail" docked on 12 Dec 1622 with infected passengers and dropped the colony to 500. There are accounts that say when Captain William Powell killed the three Indians, and, out of remorse for his brother's death and that of his family, he beheaded them . Then when he was ambushed in late January or early February of 1623, almost a year later, he was beheaded by the Chickahomonies. By whatever version of Captain William's death, it is presumed to be in early 1623, either in January or February. Captain Powell led an expedition against the Chickahomonies Indians and was killed by them sometime between January 20 and January 24, 1623. Gail Denkers Children of William AP Powell and Elizabeth Wells are: +Thomas Powell, b. 01 Apr 1599, Powelltor, Suffolk, England, d. 09 Feb 1686/87, Isle of Wright, VA.


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Capt. William Powell's Timeline

March 16, 1577
St. Olave Parish, Surrey, England
Age 29
Probably England
January 1622
Age 44
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
January 20, 1623
Age 45
Chickahominy, Virginia
January 1623
Age 45
Probably England