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  • Catherine Fisher (1598 - aft.1625)
    Biography was born about 1598.Catherine Finch made at least two life-changing journeys. Orphaned, she moved from the village of Marden in Herefordshire to Westminster, London, and there she lived in se...
  • Adria (Hoare) Harris, Ancient Planter (bef.1604 - bef.1635)
    See the "About Me" for Capt. Harris, Sr.'s profile for more info. Capt Thomas Harris. Parents unknown. Married 1) Adria Hoare, children Mary, William 2) Joan, widow of William Vincent. Relationships l...
  • Joan Kent (c.1602 - 1678)
    Not a known child of Peter Arundell [e] was born about 1602 in London, England. A birth record has not been found, but she was old enough to travel alone to the Virginia Colony on the "bride" ship Tyge...

Tobacco brides

In 1619, 90 young single women from England went to Jamestown to become wives of the men there, with the women being auctioned off for 150 pounds of tobacco each (to be paid to the shipping company), as that was the cost of each woman's travel to America.[1] All 90 of them did indeed become wives.[2] The youngest, Jane Dier, had been fifteen or sixteen years old when she left, and one of the oldest, Alice Burges, was twenty-eight.[3] Most of their fathers had died.[3] Such voyagers were called tobacco brides (or King's daughters, Casket girls, or Jamestown brides[4]%29 and 150 pounds of tobacco was the typical auction price for them, although they usually had the right to refuse the highest bidder.[5] However, tobacco brides were often sent to America against their will, and often sent at very young ages.[6] There were many women and girls who went to America for this purpose (the 1619 voyage being the first), with the women and girls promised free passage and trousseaus for their trouble.[6][3] Many tobacco brides came to America fleeing hardship, but many also suffered once in America.[7] 144 tobacco brides were brought to Jamestown by the Virginia Company between 1619 and 1622, but only thirty-five of them lived through their first six years in America.[7][8]

“The Mail-Order Brides of Jamestown, Virginia”

Like most Americans, the Jamestown brides came in search of a better life. It may seem surprising that an institution as derided and ridiculed as mail-order marriage could serve this role, but for the Jamestown brides, and the many women who came after them, marital immigration could be both empowering and liberating. Although most modern mail-order brides no longer receive trousseaus of clothing and linens, marital immigration can still provide a path to greater equality and opportunity. This was true in the 17th century, and it remains true today.

“ Jamestown Brides” by Joshua J. Mark, published on 11 March 2021

Disease and death in childbirth took a number of women not killed in native attacks, while malnutrition, domestic abuse, and accidents took more. Of the more than 150 women who participated in the Jamestown Brides program only a little more than 30 lived to see their sixth year in the colony. King James I responded to the Indian Massacre of 1622 by dissolving the Virginia Company in 1624 and issuing a royal charter for the colony, taking direct control himself.
James I ended the bride program, but by this time, Sandys' vision of a stable colony of families had been realized. Jamestown and the other settlements of the Virginia Colony still faced a number of significant challenges, but they were now peopled with families instead of single men. Other women, with and without husbands, arrived later, encouraged by the fact that Virginian law was far less strict than that of England, allowing women greater personal rights.
Records of the time show that women could refuse to recite the standard vows of marriage, could make and break business contracts and marriage arrangements, and widows could own and manage their husband’s estates. The Jamestown brides who survived their early years in the colony became the respectable women of the Virginia Colony and, in a number of cases, were able to realize the dream of owning their own home and directing their own lives.

The Jamestown brides were

  1. Catherine Fisher
  2. Adria (Hoare) Harris, Ancient Planter
  3. Joan Kent