When did the Powhatan first make contact with the English?
On December 20, 1606, three English ships carrying 144 men and boys set sail from London bound for Virginia. The ships traveled the favored southerly course across the Atlantic Ocean, taking advantage of trade Indian ceremony, Theodor de Bry, 1590 7 winds and stopping at numerous islands to re-supply. After 6,000 miles and over four months at sea in cramped quarters and unsanitary conditions, the English sighted the coast of Virginia. In 1607, George Percy noted, “…about foure a clocke in the morning, wee descried the Land of Virginia. The same day, wee entered into the Bay of Chesupioc directly, without any let or hindrance.”
While the ships anchored off Cape Henry, a scouting party went ashore to explore. An unexpected attack by a small band of Indians sent them back to the ships with two wounded men. That same night they opened the Virginia Company of London’s orders and read the names of seven men appointed to the governing council in Virginia. Several days later the settlers raised a cross and named the cape in honor of Prince Henry, the son of James I. This confirmed English claims to Virginia, established twenty years earlier by the Roanoke colony. On May 14, 1607 the English disembarked at Jamestown Island.