Twelve days after the sailing of the Mayflower, Thomas Parker, Major of Bristol, England, cleared the ship Supply, destined for Berkeley Hundred on the James River [Jamestown Colony]. The gale which had carried the Mayflower well to sea before its first tack had now died away and the Supply was destined to linger in the Avon and Severn from the 18th of September until the 25th awaiting a favorable breeze. The voyage of the Mayflower across the Atlantic will go down the ages to typify the flight of a band of men and women who dared all for conscience’ sake and won. The Supply sailed under different auspices, more akin to those which have since characterized the passage of untold fleets, conveying millions upon millions to America, the land of hope and opportunity.
Captain Newport’s historic fleet had dropped anchor off Jamestown Island a dozen years before the sailing of the Supply, yet all the efforts of the Virginia Company had resulted in locating only a few hundred colonists in the immense area then passing under the title of Virginia. But the seed had been planted and, cost what it might, there was determination that not a foot should be receded to the grasping Spanish gold seekers hovering about the coasts, and whose daring explorers had already penetrated from the land of the Aztec to New Mexico, Colorado and the Great Plains, and had learned that the western ocean lay several thousand miles from the Virginia Coast.
In 1618 a partnership, having for its object the establishment of a plantation in Virginia, had been entered into by Sir William Throckmorton, Richard Berkeley, George Thorpe, and John Smyth, all of Gloucestershire, and John Woodleefe. Upon the advice of Sir Edwin Sans an interest was reserved for Sir John Yeardley, then serving in Virginia as governor of the colony, but this was subsequently surrendered by Yeardley.
During the year 1619, a ship, the Margaret of Briston [47 tons] was sent out with thirty-two colonists under John Woodleef, with instructions to establish the town of Berkeley and the Plantation of Berkeley Hundred on the James River. John Woodleefe sailed on the Margaret September 14, 1619, in charge of the expedition, and arrived in the James December 10th, the same year. George Thorpe followed on the Merchant of London March of 1620.
Ferdinando Yate, Gent., who came over in the Margaret was commissioned to keep a record of the voyage, which he prepared under the date of November 30th, 1619, and which closes with this glowing tribute, “If I had the eloquence of the skillful art of Apellese I could not pen neither paint out a better praise of the cuntrie than the euntic it selfe deserveth.”
At the session of the court of Virginia Company, of January 26th, 1619, an indenture was granted to William Tracy, esq. Of Halees, Gloucestershire, a brother of Sir Thomas Tracy, baronet, for the establishment of a colony of five hundred persons in Virginia, and on May 7th, 1620 Sir William Throckmorton transferred his interest in the plantation of Berkeley Hundred
At the subsequent session of the court of the Virginia Company, on June 28, 1620, and upon the recommendation of Governor George Yeardley as to the need of a council, George Thorpe and William Tracy were, with four others, constituted the Council of the State of Virginia.
William Tracy was a cousin of Richard Berkeley. John Smyth was an Oxford graduate and the legal adviser of his friend Lord Berkeley, and both he and Sir William Throckmorton were connected with Tracy by family ties.
There are but few details known of the voyages of the many ships which sailed across the Atlantic during the first half century of settlement - - if all the frail boats of thirty tons and upwards may be properly characterized as ships. Owing to the partnership agreements and the correspondence attending the assembling of the colonists from Gloucestershire who comprised the small company of the Supply, and who constituted the advance guard of the five hundred persons whom William Tracy undertook to embark in his scheme of colonization, certain records were preserved which enable a fairly correct understanding to be had of his expedition.
The mayor of Bristol, in clearing the Supply, retained a list of those embarking, and upon arrival of the ship in the James, Sir George Yeardley furnished a certificate with the names of those who arrived safely at Berkeley Hundred. An examination of correspondence and available county records makes it very evident that William Tracy organized the first detachment of his five hundred colonists mainly from his kinsmen and neighbors in Gloucestershire. William Tracy was descended from Sir William de Tracy, one of the four knights, who, in 1170, at the instigation of King Henry II, assinated Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The family connection, especially in Gloucestershire, was very large.
Under date of July 5th, 1620, Tracy wrote to Smyth:
“My household will be wife, dauter, and sune, 4 mayd servants and 6 men; so then for ye rest as mani or as few as yo wil. Mr. Palet & Mr. Gilfort must be twoo more of my compani, so I shall be 16 persons at least. My meaning is all these shall be imploed in ye common business.”
A post script was added:
“I would cari 10 or 13 dogs yt would be of great youse to us -- let me know if they will let us cari them.”
Delay in the date of sailing caused Tracy to grow more impatient and in his next letter to Smyth he wrote:
“You have Nibli, he [Richard Berkeley] has Stoke, I have nothing but Virginia and it am I held from to live in shame and disgrace in England.” The outlook of younger sons was never more gloomy in England than during the period coverd by the early emigration to the colony of Virginia. The list of Berkeley colonists comprised many men whose social station was attested by the addition of “gentlman” to their names and who engaged to remain for periods of from two to seven years in the colony. The word servant of the Virginia Company, so often used, did not imply that the person referred to was a menial.
The Supply [80 tons] Captain Tobias Felgate, was chartered from William Ewins of Bristol, England, and was fitted out at that city for the voyage to Virginia. Owing to its restricted accommodations and the well-known results of overcrowding such ships on long voyages at that time, a number who had prepared to sail were left behind to follow on the next ship. The fitting out of the Supply embarrassed Tracy financially, but his kinsmen came promptly to the relief. The remarkable health record on the voyage was almost wholly due to his wise forethought and able preparation.
With the colonists went books on English husbandry and the care of silk worms; a great quantity of garden seeds and “a reasonable quantity of the seed of cotton wool.” Mr. Smyth sent from his own nurseries “a great number of the young stocks and of apple trees grafted with pippens, pearmaynes and the other best applies, which he hopeth for his own humor and affeccon sake therein you will have somewhat more care of, as also the bagg of abricots, damosell, and other plum stones he now sendeth.” ....
The Town and Hundred of Berkeley on James river --- the present landing for this ancient plantation known as Harrison’s landing-- had been previously under the management of Captain Woodleffe but as the Supply brought the revocation of his appointment and the new commissions of William Tracy and George Thorpe to be governors of Berkeley Town and Hundred...
Soon after the arrival of the Supply a census was taken ... and showed that only 843 survived in March of 1621....
Tracy gave every evidence to his followers that he had come to cast his fortunes with the new country for his wife, a son Thomas, and a daughter, Joyce, and one of her young kinsmen accompanied him. Not many months after his arrival, his daughter married Captain Nathaniel Powel, a member of the council in 1621 and for a time governor of the colony, and her young kinswoman, Francess Grevell, married De la Warr...[Lord Delaware.]
The death of Tracy proved the first blow, soon followed by the apearance of ... “the Indian Question.”... On April 21, 1622, the Indians throughout the tidewater region fell upon the scattered settlers, and those who had come with Tracy ... of the fifty who arrived on the Supply, more than half fell by the hand of treachery ... George Thorpe, Tracy’s daughter, Joyce, and her husband Captain Nathaniel Powell [died] ... several of the party, including Tracy’s son Thomas, made their way back to England. [Carter, General William Giles Harding, Giles Carter of Virginia, Genealogical Memoir, 1909.]
General Carter gives his interpretation of the genealogy of the first Giles Carter who came to Virginia with Tracy. This Giles went back to England and never returned to Virginia. The GILES who we find resident in Virginia in 1653, who we know is our ancestor, is possibly the son or nephew of the original Giles Carter of 1622 Virginia.
Giles Carter was recorded as one of those who made his way back to England. Giles Carter married Elizabeth Tracy, daughter of Sir Paul Tracy in 1623 in Gloucestershire, England. Giles was the son of John Carter of Gloucestershire, who died in 1627. John Carter’s wife, the mother of Giles, was Mary Lawrence, the daughter of Robert Lawrence and his first wife. John Carter was the son of Gyles Carter of Badgworth, Gloucestershire, who died in 1585, His wife was not known. The line is “traced” back to a signer of the Magna Carta and other “interesting ancestors.”
Of the 35 colonists who had sailed from Bristol in 1619 on the Margaret, and the 50 who sailed on the Supply in 1620, the majority were from the Gloucestershire area and were related. Giles Carter’s sister-in-law, Barbara Tracy, also a daughter of Sir Paul Tracy, had married Richard Smyth. Sir Paul Tracy was the head of the Stanwaye branch of the Tracys, and William Tracy was from the other branch of the Tracys, the Tudington group. William’s father was Sir John Tracy, and his mother was Ann Throckmorton.
After returning to England, Giles was the head of the family after his father, John’s, death in 1627, which may be why he never returned to Virginia. About 1649, during Cromwell’s great rebellion, when King Charles was beheaded, Giles Carter was sequestered and made to pay a fine of over 900 pounds. Our GILES CARTER [born about 1634] found in Virginia about 1650, is very probably the younger son or nephew of this first Virginia traveler, Giles Carter. General Carter makes a case for GILES being the son of the first Giles, and needing to emigrate due to the poverty of the family, and also because our GILES would have been a younger son [given the ages, etc.] Other researchers seem to think that GILES was probably a nephew of the original Giles. Apparently, no one has a definite proof either way, so at this time, we are still unsure of the exact connections, however this give us a basis for future research.