Source 4a

Extracts from ‘Gilbert Blight, letters from Virginia to Plymouth’, 1628-30. Catalogue Ref. HCA 15/1.


Gilbert Blight lived in Jamestown, Virginia, and was involved in the tobacco trade there. Blight would liaise with tobacco planters in Virginia from whom he purchased the tobacco. This tobacco was then transported in merchant ships to England. While in Jamestown, Blight sent and received many letters from business partners and merchants who were involved in this trade, notably including Abraham Jennens, William Bond, and Thomas Mayhew.


‘My Nobell Constant Virginian,


All happiness, betwixt [between] the highest heavens, &

Lowest earth I wish you; a long tyme [time] I haue [have]

Not wryten [written] you, pardon mee, it is not

Forgetfulnes, but want [lack] of conveyance [means of sending letters]

For I haue [have] bine [been] on sine [since] your departure

(Land only within this month), in Ireland,

& now meeting with this Convayance; my

affections is such as bayde [bid] mee [me] to

Remember my trewest love although

Heere is lyttel [little] worth your notice, yeat

what the time afforedeth, shall herein be

Incerted [included]; first all the young Creatures

Of your affection are maryed [married]; heere

Remaynes [remains] none for your lycking [liking], wherefore

You may take advantage, on your parte,

yeat [yet] the old Johan is still lyuing [alive], &

desyreth [desired] to bee remembered unto you; –

Radford is maryed [married] to a wife, so tall; as

Shee can easyly looke over him [is taller];

He is converted Ironmonger in the

Market street; Children begin to bee

Very plentyfull; no more but your old

Friend Galatia is delyuered [delivered] with a preety [pretty]

Black thing; for the rest, wee are all

Well casting oure ankors [anchors] and fortune;

I doubt not but you haue [have] heard of

John Whiddons death; next giue [give] mee

Leaue [leave] to tell you, spite of your teeth I

love you.


« Return to Tobacco
  • Where had William Bond been that prevented him from writing to Blight?
  • How is Bond and Blight’s relationship characterised in this letter?
  • What has Blight missed whilst he has been away in Virginia?
  • What insights can a personal letter give us that other document sources might not provide?
  • In the letter, Bond says that Blight’s friend has had a child, which he calls ‘a pretty Black thing’. This may refer to hair or skin tone or suggest a child of African descent. Modern understandings of race and ethnicity are quite different from those in the Stuart era. Do you think we can be sure what this means?
  • What can this tell us about the experiences of merchant factors [an agent trading on a merchant’s behalf] in Virginia, and how they might feel about life at home in England?