By Scarlett Stahl
As the First California Company’s historian, I emailed the Reverend Canon Chris Stone, Rector of Gravesend in England to arrange a visit to St. George’s Church, where my 10th great grandmother, Pocahontas is buried. Reverend Chris graciously agreed to meet me at the train and show me the church. The distance between London and Gravesend is about 30 miles and time by train can vary, with stops it is about an hour ride. True to his word, he did indeed meet me and we walked thru the town to the Church, where a choir was practicing.
Reverend Chris shared that in March 1617, the Rolfes prepared to leave London on Argall’s ship the “George”. They were to return with Virginia’s Governor and his family. At this stage Pocahontas’ health was deteriorating, as were most Indians in the party. Pocahontas was brought ashore at Gravesend, either dead or dying and is believed to have been buried in the vault beneath the chancel of the local parish church –
St. George’s: The original church was destroyed by fire on 24th August 1727 and later rebuilt. In 1896 the memorial tablet to Pocahontas was put in the chancel of St. George’s Church, as were the stained glass memorial windows in 1914.
In 1923 a Virginian received permission to search for the remains of Pocahontas, but found nothing conclusive. There is an entry in the Gravesend St. George composite parish register that records the burial of Princess Pocahontas on 21 March 1616/1617. The entry reads: “Rebecca Wroth wyffe [i.e. wife] of Thomas Wroth/ gent[leman] [i.e.gentleman] a Virginia [America] Lady borne [i.e. born] was buried/ in the Chauncell[i.e. chancel].”
(Her husband was John Rolfe and her son was Thomas Rolfe, so this was was an error.) Reverend Chris said that there will be a celebration on March 21, 2017 to commemorate her death in Gravesend and he will be coming to the States to gather memorabilia for the occasion.