Early English Settlements



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Ch. 3 Colonial America, 1587-1770

3.1 Notes – “Early English Settlements”

Essential Question – Why did the English settle in North America?

After the English defeated the Spanish Armada, the way was clear for England to start colonies in North America.

Queen Elizabeth of England gave Sir Walter Raleigh the right to claim land in North America. His scouts chose Roanoke Island, off the coast of present-day North Carolina (the Outer Banks).

In 1587, Raleigh sent settlers to Roanoke, led by John White. White’s daughter gave birth to Virginia Dare, the first English child born in North America. When White returned to Roanoke after going to England for supplies, the settlement was deserted. Roanoke became known as “the lost colony” and discouraged others from planning English colonies.

By 1606, groups of merchants wanted charters, documents granting the right to organize settlements, from King James. One group, the Virginia Company, was a joint-stock company. Investors bought stock, or part ownership, in the company in return to a share of its future profits. In 1607, settlers established Jamestown, named after their king.

The colonists in Jamestown faced hardships of disease and hunger. The colony survived because of John Smith who forced settlers to work and established friendly relationships with the local Native Americans, the Powhatan. When Smith returned to England, Jamestown lacked a strong leader. The winter of 1609-1610 became known as “the starving time” and fighting broke out with the Native Americans.

Jamestown began to prosper when John Rolfe grew a type of tobacco using seeds from the West Indies. Rolfe also married the daughter of Chief Powhatan which improved relations with Native Americans. Her name was Pocahontas. Land ownership expanded when the Virginia Company gave a headright, or land grant, of 50 acres to any settler who paid their own way to the colony. The Virginia colonists also created the House of Burgesses, a group of representatives who make local laws for the colony.

3.2 Notes – “New England Colonies”

Essential Question – Why did the Separatists and Puritans leave England and settle in North America?

The next wave of settlers arrived in search of religious freedom. In England, Protestants who wanted to reform the Church of England (Anglican) were called Puritans. Those who wanted to leave and set up their own churches were known as Separatists. The Separatists were persecuted in England, and some fled to the Netherlands. After finding it difficult to find work and worried that their children were losing their religious values and English way of life, the Separatists made an arrangement with the Virginia Company. They could settle in Virginia in exchange for a share of any profits they made.

In 1620, the Separatists boarded the Mayflower to settle in Virginia. Since their journey had a religious purpose, they called themselves Pilgrims. Only 35 of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower were Pilgrims. The others were called “strangers.” They were common people hoping to find a better life in America.

The Pilgrims landed off their target and settled in Plymouth, near Cape Cod. William Bradford was their leader. Before going ashore, the Pilgrims drew up a document called the Mayflower Compact, establishing the rules and laws of Plymouth. This was a step toward having a representative government in the American colonies.



During the first winter at Plymouth, half the Pilgrims died from the cold, malnutrition, and disease. Two Native Americans, Squanto and Samoset, helped the colonists by showing them how grow crops and where to hunt and fish. Squanto and Samoset also helped the Pilgrims make peace with the Wampanoag and their leader, Massasoit. This treaty between Pilgrims and Wampanoag led to the first Thanksgiving.

*See 13 Colonies Project chart for information about the New England Colonies – Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

3.3 Notes – “Middle Colonies”

Essential Question – How did the Middle Colonies develop?

*See 13 Colonies Project chart for information about the Middle Colonies – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

3.4 Notes – “Southern Colonies”

Essential Question – How and why did the Southern colonies grow?

*See 13 Colonies Project chart for information about the Southern Colonies – Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.



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