Source 1a

Extracts from ‘A Description of the now discouered Riuer and Country of Virginia, with the liklyhood of ensuing ritches, by Englands ayd and industry’, 1607. Catalogue Ref: CO 1/1 f.53-7.


These extracts come from a document that was written in May-June 1607. They show how an English author viewed the land of Virginia and hoped for the successful growth of new crops for export. It also describes the practices and customs of the Native American tribes who were already living there when the English arrived. It is does not reflect the perspectives of the indigenous peoples of Virginia.


‘A description of the now discovered River and Country of Virginia, with the likelihood of ensuing riches by England’s aid and industry’



The Rubish [rubbish] this Land naturaly Bringeth forth


It naturally

yeelds [yields]mulberry trees, cherry trees, vines aboundance, gooseberyes, strawberys hurcle-bereys, [huckleberries] Resperres, [raspberries]ground nutts [peanuts], carretts [carrots] the roote called sigilla Christi, certane [certain] sweet thym [thyme] shelled nutts, certane ground aples, [apples] a pleasant fruite any many other unknowne. So the thing we crave [need] is some skillful man to husband [farm]sett plant and dresse vynes, [vines] suger canes, olives, rapes [oilseed rape crop] hemp flax, lycoris pruyus [liquorish plant], currants raysons [raisins], and all such things, as the north Tropick [Tropic of Cancer] of the would afford; also saffean [saffron]wood


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  • What perspective can be inferred by the title of the document used by the author?
  • What value was placed on the crops already grown in Virginia according to the writer?
  • Why do you think the writer has presented a particular view of the crops that are already growing there?
  • What attitude is inferred in the extract towards the indigenous peoples of Virginia?
  • Why do you think that this document was written?
  • What does the stamp and the number we can see on this document reveal?