Back to Piscataqua - Gorges Page
Here's a brief and incomplete chronology leading up to the settlement of Piscataqua by David Thomson. Gorges and the Grant of the Province of Maine 1922, A Tercentenary Memorial written by Henry S. Burrage, Printed 1923, was the source of many of the facts and dates. I've inserted several suppositions about the whereabouts of David Thomson during this time. Bold headings and comments in  are mine.The excerpts in quotes are taken from:
"A Brief Relation of the Discovery and Plantation of New England, 1620."
Printed in London by John Haviland in 1622.
The epistle dedicatory "To the Prince his Highness" (afterward Charles I) is signed by the "President and Council of New England." Mr. Baxter, the author of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and His Province of Maine, published 1890, believed the "Brief Relation" was written by Gorges himself.
Sir Ferdinando Gorges encountered many set-backs to his dream of setting up a profitable trading settlement in New England. In the first pages of his "Relation," he recounts them in great detail:
Summer of 1605: Indians Arrive in Plymouth, England
[Captain George Waymouth returns to Plymouth, Devon, from a voyage to New England coast, bring with him interesting stories and five Indians. Gorges, then commander of the fort at Plymouth, keeps three, and sends the other two to Chief Justice John Popham. Ralph and Matthew Thompson, the authors of First Yankee believe the young David Thomson befriended Gorges' Indians in Plymouth and taught them English.]
April 10, 1606: Charter Issued
[King James issues a charter for two companies, the first to be called the London or southern company, the second the Plymouth or northern company. A suitable location for the London colony is soon discovered around Chesapeake Bay and the James River. But added exploration was needed to find a location for the northern colony. Two vessels set out. One, under Captain Henry Challons, sails from Plymouth, England, on August 11, 1606.]
August, 1606: Challons False Start
"When this design was first attempted [we] did send to the discovery of those northern parts a brave gentleman, Captain Henry Challons, with two of the natives of that territory....But his misfortunes did expose him to the power of certain strangers, enemies to his proceedings, so that by them, his company were seized, the ships and goods confiscated, the voyage wholly overthrown." [Challons ships was captured in South Atlantic waters by a Spanish fleet.] "This loss, and unfortunate beginning, did much abate the rising courage of the first adventurers...."
October 1606: Popham Tries, Fails, And Dies
[Two months later, the second vessel sets out for New England.] "Sir John Popham knight [sent] out another ship...with all necessary supplies, for the seconding of Capt. Challons" [This ship, commanded by Thomas Hanham and master Martin Pring, safely arrived and brought back encouraging information.] "In the mean while...it pleased God to take from us this worthy member (John Popham) whose sudden death [on June 10, 1607] did so astonish the hearts of the most part of the adventurers, and some grew cold, and some did wholly abandon the business."
The French Move In
"Our people abandoning the plantation...the Frenchmen immediately took the opportunity to settle themselves within our limits...."
1609: Richard Vines Visits New England
[Vines, and apothecary who had been in Gorges' employ in England and under whom David Thomson possibly apprenticed, visits New England. Thomson is believed to have accompanied him.]
1614: One More Try Leads To War With The Indians
"...we resolved once more to try...and thereupon...despatched Captain Hobson, of the Isle of Wight, together with Capt. Herley, Master John Matthew, Master Sturton, with two savages....But in all human affairs, there is nothing more certain, that the uncertainty thereof; so fell out in this; for a little before such time as they arrived upon the coast with the aforesaid savages, who were naturals of those parts, it happened there had been one Hunt (a worthless fellow of our nation) [who had] seized upon the poor innocent creatures...and stowing them under hatches ...carried them into the Straits [of Gibraltar], where he sought to sell them for slaves....This being known by our two savages...they presently contracted such an hatred against our whole nation, as they immediately studied how to be revenged....Hereupon Capt. Hobson and his company...resolved without more ado to return....They brought home nothing but the news...of a war now new began between the inhabitant of those parts, and us."
1615: Captain John Smith Gives It A Go
"...we found the means to send out Captain John Smith from Plymouth, to lay the foundation of a new plantation, and to try the fishing of that coast, and to seek to settle a trade with the natives: but such was his misfortune, as being scarce free of our own coast, he had his masts shaken overboard by storms and tempests, his ship wonderfully distressed, and in that extremity forced to come back again....So...we were of necessity enforced to furnish him with another ship, and taking out the provision of the first, despatched him away again....Coming to the...Western Islands, [he] was chased by a French pirate and by him made prisoner, although his ship in the night escaped away....Capt. Smith...was detained prisoner...and forced to suffer many extremities, before he got free...."
Winter of 1616-1617: Vines Winters in New England
[Richard Vines spends the winter at the mouth of the Saco living in the cabins of the Indians, who were sick with the plague. David Thomson is believed to have been with Vines.]
Squanto "Employed" To Make Peace
"Notwithstanding these disasters, it pleased God so to work for our encouragement again, as he sent into our hands Tasquantum [Squanto], one of those savages that formerly had been betrayed by this unworthy Hunt....There was hope conceived to work a peace between us, and his friends, they being the principal inhabitant of that coast....But this savage Tasquantum, being at that time in the New-found land with Captain Mason governour there...Master Darmer (who was there also, and sometimes before employed...by us) found the means to give us intelligence of him, and his opinion of the good use that might be made of his employment...."
1619: The Dispatch and Deaths of Captains Rocraft and Darmer
[A long confusing story ensues of the dispatch of Captain Rocraft, sent out to meet with Capt. Darmer and Tasquantum, but instead encountering a French bark which he seized. The captive French plot to cut Rocraft's throat, he decides to put them ashore with "some arms for their defence and some victual." Then finding himself short of men in a ship that draws too much water for the coast in those places, Rocraft decides to sail south to Virginia. There, he gets into a brawl with another man and is slain. Meanwhile, Capt. Darmer and Tasquantum arrive at the rendezvous point, discover Rocraft's not there, and begin searching the coast for him. They finally come across a ship from Virginia and learn of Rocraft's death. Back in England, Gorges' patent it disputed by the council of Virginia. Gorges says "these disputes help us almost two years, so as all men were afraid to join with us." But Master Darmer refused to give up until once again "he was betrayed by certain new savages, who suddenly set upon him, giving him fourteen or fifteen wounds...[he] was constrained to retire into Virginia again...for the cure of his wounds, where he fell sick of the infirmities of that place, and thereof died."]
1620-1622: Patent Granted, Funding Sought
[At long last, King James, in the great charter of 1620, granted to the Council of New England territory from 40 to 48 degrees of latitude. In 1622, the Council of New England in turn granted a province, named for the first time, the "Province of Maine" to Gorges and Capt. John Mason. Gorges wrote:]
"Having passed all these storms abroad, and undergone so many home-bred oppositions, and freed our patent which we were by offer of state assigned to renew, for the amendment of some defects therein contained, we were assured of this ground more boldly to proceed on than before, and therefore we took first to consideration how to raise the means to advance the plantation...."
[Thus begins the long, and largely unsuccessful, struggle to find financing for Gorges' and Mason's endeavor.]
Contributed by Nancy Thomson - email@example.com
The documents are direct quotes and should not be taken and used as one's own work without identifying the source.