Chronicles of America 

The Vigorous Rule of Sir Thomas Dale

In a rebuilt Jamestown, Lord De La Warr, of "approved courage, temper and experience," held for a short interval dignified, seigneurial sway, while his restless associates adventured far and wide. Sir George Somers sailed back to the Bermudas to gather a cargo of the wild swine of those woods, but illness seized him there, and he died among the beautiful islands. That Captain Samuel Argall who had traversed for the Company the short road from the Canaries took up Smith's fallen mantle and carried on the work of exploration. It was he who found, and named for the Lord Governor, Delaware Bay. He went up the Potomac and traded for corn; rescued an English boy from the Indians; had brushes with the savages. In the autumn back to England with a string of ships went that tried and tested seafarer Christopher Newport. Virginia wanted many things, and chiefly that the Virginia Company should excuse defect and remember promise. So Gates sailed with Newport to make true report and guide exertion. Six months passed, and the Lord Governor himself fell ill and must home to England. So away he, too, went and for seven years until his death ruled from that distance through a deputy governor. De La Warr was a man of note and worth, old privy councilor of Elizabeth and of James, soldier in the Low Countries, strong Protestant and believer in England-in-America. Today his name is borne by a great river, a great bay, and by one of the United States.

In London, the Virginia Company, having listened to Gates, projected a fourth supply for the colony. Of those hundreds who had perished in Virginia, many had been true and intelligent men, and again many perhaps had been hardly that. But the Virginia Company was now determined to exercise for the future a discrimination. It issued a broadside, making known that it was sending a new supply of men and all necessary provision in a fleet of good ships, under the conduct of Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Dale, and that it was not intended any more to burden the action with "vagrant and unnecessary persons . . . but honest and industrious men, as Carpenters, Smiths, Coopers, Fishermen, Tanners, Shoemakers, Shipwrights, Brickmen, Gardeners, Husbandmen, and laboring men of all sorts that . . . shall be entertained for the Voyage upon such termes as their qualitie and fitnesse shall deserve." Yet, in spite of precautions, some of the other sort continued to creep in with the sober and industrious. Master William Crashaw, in a sermon upon the Virginia venture, remarks that "they who goe . . . be like for aught I see to those who are left behind, even of all sorts better and worse!" This probably hits the mark.

The Virginia Company meant at last to have order in Virginia. To this effect, a new office was created and a strong man was found to fill it. Gates remained De La Warr's deputy governor, but Sir Thomas Dale went as Marshal of Virginia. The latter sailed in March, 1611, with "three ships, three hundred people, twelve kine, twenty goats, and all things needful for the colony." Gates followed in May with other ships, three hundred colonists, and much cattle.


The noun kine has one meaning:

Meaning #1: domesticated bovine animals as a group regardless of sex or age
Synonyms: cattle, cows, oxen, Bos taurus

Source: WordNet

For the next few years Dale becomes, in effect, ruler of Virginia. He did much for the colony, and therefore, in that far past that is not so distant either, much for the United States - a man of note, and worth considering.

Dale had seen many years of service in the Low Countries. He was still in Holland when the summons came to cross the ocean in the service of the Virginia Company. On the recommendation of Henry, Prince of Wales, the States-General of the United Netherlands consented "that Captain Thomas Dale (destined by the King of Great Britain to be employed in Virginia in his Majesty's service) may absent himself from his company for the space of three years, and that his said company shall remain meanwhile vacant, to be resumed by him if he think proper."

This man had a soldier's way with him and an iron will. For five years in Virginia he exhibited a certain stern efficiency which was perhaps the best support and medicine that could have been devised. At the end of that time, leaving Virginia, he did not return to the Dutch service, but became Admiral of the fleet of the English East India Company, thus passing from one huge historic mercantile company to another. With six ships he sailed for India. Near Java, the English and the Dutch having chosen to quarrel, he had with a Dutch fleet "a cruel, bloody fight." Later, when peace was restored, the East India Company would have given him command of an allied fleet of English and Dutch ships, the objective being trade along the coast of Malabar and an attempt to open commerce with the Chinese. But Sir Thomas Dale was opening commerce with a vaster, hidden land, for at Masulipatam he died. "Whose valor," says his epitaph, "having shined in the Westerne, was set in the Easterne India."

But now in Maytime of 1611 Dale was in Virginian waters. By this day, beside the main settlement of Jamestown, there were at Cape Henry and Point Comfort small forts garrisoned with meager companies of men. Dale made pause at these, setting matters in order, and then, proceeding up the river, he came to Jamestown and found the people gathered to receive him. Presently he writes home to the Company a letter that gives a view of the place and its needs. Any number of things must be done, requiring continuous and hard work, "as, namely, the reparation of the falling Church and so of the Store-house, a stable for our horses, a munition house, a Powder house, a new well for the amending of the most unwholesome water which the old afforded. Brick to be made, a sturgion house . . . a Block house to be raised on the North side of our back river to prevent the Indians from killing our cattle, a house to be set up to lodge our cattle in the winter, and hay to be appointed in his due time to be made, a smith's forge to be perfected, caske for our Sturgions to be made, and besides private gardens for each man common gardens for hemp and flax and such other seeds, and lastly a bridge to land our goods dry and safe upon, for most of which I take present order."

Sturgion House - Sturgeon House

I can find no reference to a "sturgeon house" or "sturgion house" that would detail the purpose of such a building online. So in determining such a use of a house one must look at the clues provided by Dale's own writing, and by knowledge of the sturgeon fish. Sturgeon eggs (roe) have been used for the making of caviar for centuries. In order to create caviar, one would "cure" the roe in sea salt brine. Hence, one would need some sort of a container to cure the fish eggs in. And a separate building to store those containers in, as they had to smell, considering they consisted of sea salt brine and fish eggs.

Dale mentions first that in the town of Jamestown there was need of a "sturgion house", he then later states that "caske for our Sturgions to be made." A caske (English spelling of cask) is a sturdy cylindrical container for storing liquids; a barrel. If the Englishmen of Jamestown were developing casks for storage, reason would ask, what were they storing? Dale calls it "Sturgion" leading me to believe that back in the 1600's settlers would develop an actual sturgeon house in which the curing of sturgeon eggs would occur in casks. After all, "Sturgions to be made" cannot be referencing the actual making of a sturgeon fish, leading me to believe that he called what we know as caviar, "Sturgeons."

If we of the United States today will call to mind certain Western small towns of some decades ago--if we will review them as they are pictured in poem and novel and play--we may receive, as it were out of the tail of the eye, an impression of some aspects of these western plantings of the seventeenth century. The dare-devil, the bully, the tenderfoot, the gambler, the gentleman-desperado had their counterparts in Virginia. So had the cool, indomitable sheriff and his dependable posse, the friends generally of law and order. Dale may be viewed as the picturesque sheriff of this earlier age.

But it must be remembered that this Virginia was of the seventeenth, not of the nineteenth century. And law had cruel and idiot faces as well as faces just and wise. Hitherto the colony possessed no written statutes. The Company now resolved to impose upon the wayward an iron restraint. It fell to Dale to enforce the regulations known as "Lawes and Orders, dyvine, politique, and martiall for the Colonye of Virginia"--not English civil law simply, but laws "chiefly extracted out of the Lawes for governing the army in the Low Countreys." The first part of this code was compiled by William Strachey; the latter part is thought to have been the work of Sir Edward Cecil, Sir Thomas Gates, and Dale himself, approved and accepted by the Virginia Company. Ten years afterwards, defending itself before a Committee of Parliament, the Company through its Treasurer declared "the necessity of such laws, in some cases ad terrorem, and in some to be truly executed."

Seventeenth-century English law herself was terrible enough in all conscience, but "Dale's Laws" went beyond. Offences ranged from failure to attend church and idleness to lese majeste. The penalties were gross--cruel whippings, imprisonments, barbarous puttings to death. The High Marshal held the unruly down with a high hand.

But other factors than this Draconian code worked at last toward order in this English West. Dale was no small statesman, and he played ferment against ferment. Into Virginia now first came private ownership of land. So much was given to each colonist, and care of this booty became to each a preoccupation. The Company at home sent out more and more settlers, and more and more of the industrious, peace-loving sort.

Hitherto there had been no trading or landholding by individuals. All the colonists contributed the products of their toil to the common store and received their supplies from the Company. The adventurers (stockholders) contributed money to the enterprise; the colonists, themselves and their labor.

By 1612 the English in America numbered about eight hundred. Dale projected another town, and chose for its site the great horseshoe bend in the river a few miles below the Falls of the Far West, at a spot we now call Dutch Gap. Here Dale laid out a town which he named Henricus after the Prince of Wales, and for its citizens he drafted from Jamestown three hundred persons. To him also are due Bermuda and Shirley Hundreds and Dale's Gift over on the Eastern Shore. As the Company sent over more colonists, there began to show, up and down the James though at far intervals, cabins and clearings made by white men, set about with a stockade, and at the river edge a rude landing and a fastened boat. The restless search for mines of gold and silver now slackened. Instead eyes turned for wealth to the kingdom of the plant and tree, and to fur trade and fisheries.

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