John Rolfe

From Academic Kids

John Rolfe (c. 1585 - 1622) was one of the early British settlers of North America.

Rolfe was born in Heacham, Norfolk, England. Rolfe settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1609, where he is credited with being the first to commercially cultivate Nicotiana tabacum tobacco plants in North America; this turned the colony of Virginia into a profitable venture.

In 1614 Rolfe married Pocahontas, daughter of the local Native American leader Chief Powhatan. Pocahontas died after he brought her to England in 1616, but their young son Thomas Rolfe survived. John Rolfe may have been killed by the Powhatan; he died suddenly in 1622, a year of warfare between the colonists and the tribes. Thomas Rolfe later returned to Virginia, and was accepted by the Powhatan. The marriage between John Rolfe and Pocahontas thus helped bring peace between the tribes and the British settlers of Virginia for a generation. Many of the prominent early families of Virginia trace their lineage to descendants of John Rolfe.

Virginia State Highway 31 is named the John Rolfe Highway. It links Williamsburg with Jamestown, the southern entrance to the Colonial Parkway, and via the Jamestown Ferry leads to the rich farming area of Surry County and Sussex County, ending in Wakefield, Virginia.

John Rolfe Middle School, in Henrico County, Virginia, one of Virginia's eight original shires of 1634, is named for him.

Further reading: Sloan, Samuel H. The Slave Children of Thomas Jefferson, Kiseido, 1998.

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