Ann Burras, came to Jamestown 1608

women working
photo 1607. A Nation Takes Root
The first English women arrived in Virginia when Captain Christopher Newport brought two to Jamestown on his second supply ship in October of 1608.

Ann Burras — an unmarried young woman in her teens — accompanied Mistress Forest as her maid. Mistress Forest had come with her husband (probably Thomas — listed among the ship’s passengers as “a gentleman”). 

Edwin Sandys
photo 1607. A Nation Takes Root

Two months after her arrival, Ann married a laborer, John Laydon, who had come to Jamestown with the original settlers in 1607.

Ann bore her husband four daughters. Little else is known of her except that she survived the Indian attack of 1622 — which killed an estimated 347 colonists and was the beginning of a war that lasted for ten years.  She was still living in Virginia in 1625.

women working
photo 1607. A Nation Takes Root

The English who settled Jamestown in 1607 were all male — men and boys, who were all indentured to the Virginia Company, regardless of class.  Initially, women were probably considered more of a hindrance than a benefit in the dangerous exploration and conquest of a new land. 

The need for a more permanent colony may have led to revised thinking about the role of women.  The traditional English role of women enlarged and shifted as they created a sense of permanence and “home” in the wilderness of Virginia, and their importance and standing grew. Jamestown’s women provided the stability needed for its survival.

page 1, next >>

Copyright 2007