Andrew Buckler (1573 – 1625)
Explorer / Adventurer
Most of us know something about the history of our country and its people, even those who have no interest in history at all, but what always surprises me is just how connected we are to these historical events. It’s one of the things I love about family history, that these long forgotten events often included a person(s) from our families past. For me this makes the history of our country very personal in deed, because they were not just events we learnt at school or through the odd documentary we may watch or the object we read about the last time we visited a museum, These events are in our blood and have made us and our country what we are, they us as much a part of family history as they are of times past.
This post is about Andrew Buckler a Dorset gentleman who I relate too in three different ways and his connection to the first settlers of America and the very famous Captain John Smith and the legendary Pocahontas.
Andrew Buckler was born in Wyke Regis, Dorset, England in 1573 he was the son of John Buckler (1530 – 1600) and Elizabeth Preston (1545 – 1604).
Andrew was one of the first colonists of the New World and helped establish the first permanent English settlement in North America alongside Captain John Smith (1580 – 1631). In 1606 these early entrepreneurs set sail with a charter from the Virginia Company of London to establish a colony in the New World. The fleet consisted of three ships, Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, under Captain Christopher Newport. After a particularly long voyage of five months, including a stop in Puerto Rico, they finally departed for the American mainland on 10TH April 1607. It is unclear which of the three ships Andrew sailed upon.
104 men and boys were a part of this convoy of ships to the New World, and their backgrounds and occupations were varied and included a mason, a carpenter, a bricklayer, a barber, a preacher, a blacksmith, a tailor, two surgeons, lots of labourers, and an overabundance of men with the title of ‘Gentleman.’ Which Andrew too was listed as, he was also referred to as ‘Master’.
The master, or sailing master, was a historic term for a naval officer trained in and responsible for the navigation of a sailing vessel.
The expedition made landfall on 26TH April 1607 at a place they named Cape Henry. Under orders to select a more secure location, they set about exploring what is now Hampton Roads and an outlet into the Chesapeake Bay they named the James River in honour of their king, James I of England.
When a suitable location for Jamestown was found, Captain John Smith set about training and encouraging the settlers to work hard he is noted to have saying; ‘Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land… If he have nothing but his hands, he may…by industrie quickly grow rich’ and ‘he who shall not work, shall not eat’. John Smith is considered to have played an important part in the colonies survival and his strength of character and determination saved the colony from early devastation.
Virginia Native Americans had already established settlements long before the English settlers arrived, and there were an estimated 14,000 natives in the region, politically known as Tsenacommacah, their paramount chief was known as Wahunsenacawh, or “Chief Powhatan”. Initially he sought to resettle the English colonists from Jamestown to another area but this never transpired. The first explorers had been welcomed by the Indians with dancing, feasting and tobacco ceremonies.
Sometime after their arrival Andrew alongside Edward Brinton, Samuel Collier, and Captain Richard Waldo, was chosen to accompany Smith on the journey to meet the Indian Chief Powhatan. These five men set out for Werowocomoco and travelled some twelve miles before they came to the Pamunkey River, which they crossed in a savage canoe. Upon their arrival in the Indian village, it was learned that Powhatan was thirty miles off, and he was presently sent for. In the meantime, Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas, and her maidens entertained the men around a fire they had made in a field.
Smith’s Generall Historie [sic] records the event this way:
Thirtie young women came naked out of the woods, onely covered behind and before with a few greene leaves, their bodies all painted, some of one colour, some of another, but all differing, their leader had a fayre payre of Bucks hornes on her head, and an Otters skinne at her girdle. . . These fiends with most hellish shouts and cryes, rushing from among the trees, cast themselves in a ring about the fire, singing and dauncing with most excellent ill varietie. . .
Powhatan arrived the following day, and the men tried to convince him to come to Jamestown to receive gifts that were sent to him by the King of England. Instead, Powhatan requested that they be brought to him at Werowocomoco. It was agreed, and several days later they returned and presented Powhatan with a red robe and a crown in a coronation ceremony. A good standing relationship had begun between Smith’s men and the Indian villagers.
Andrew Buckler lived in Virginia for only two years and in May 1609 he made a petition in the Calendar of State Papers declaring his intent to return to England. This early departure may have saved his life because only a few months after his leaving the conditions in Jamestown grew much worse. The winter of 1609-1610 became known as ‘the Starving time’ and 70% of the colonists died.
Andrew arrived home safely in England and in 1612 he married Anne Daubeney (1589 – 1625) in the parish of Litton, Dorset and had three children, Andrew, Elizabeth and George, he remained in England for the rest of his life and died in Dorset in 1625.