King James I may well have been inspired by the tenacity of Hamilton and Montgomery, and the immediate success of their Settlement.
On April 10th 1606, as the first Scots settlers were preparing for a new life in Ulster, King James established the Virginia Company of London, whose purpose was to establish colonial settlements in North America.
On December 20th 1606 three ships – the Godspeed, the Discovery and the Susan Constant – left London with the King’s blessing, bound for Virginia, carrying 144 male settlers. 40 died on the journey.
They established the first permanent English settlement in the New World on May 13th 1607 – exactly one year after the Hamilton & Montgomery Settlement began in Ulster. They called the new Virginian settlement Jamestown, in honour of the King.
Captain John Smith
The Jamestown Settlement was led by a Captain John Smith who, just like Sir Hugh Montgomery, had fought in the Dutch army against the Spanish in the late 1500s. He later fought as a mercenary in the Austrian army against the Ottoman empire, where he was captured, taken to Turkey and escaped via Russia. Smith had spent some time with powerful figures at the Royal Court of King James VI of Scotland around 1599 or 1600, having been provided with a letter of introduction by his friend Lord Willoughby. However Smith left the court, finding that he had "neither money nor meanes to make him a courtier". It is interesting to speculate if he might have met Hamilton or Montgomery while he was there.
The Ulster-Jamestown Connections
In the early 1600s, both Ulster and Virginia were seen as frontiers needing to be tamed.
Sir Arthur Chichester famously said of Ulster that “My heart is so well affected unto it that I had rather labour with my hands in the plantation of Ulster than dance or play in that of Virginia.”
“… the motives for settling Ulster and Virginia may have differed widely, profit being the main impetus to the former while strategic considerations dominated the latter. Even so, contemporaries often coupled the two in their minds. News about one in a letter called for a comment on the other. Even when giving a verbal picture of Ulster, men drew upon America for an image. ‘Heretofore’, wrote Sir John Davies in 1609 to Salisbury, Ulster was ‘so obscure and unknown to the English here as the most inland part of Virginia is ye unknown’. To this day one of Ulster’s towns bears the name of her sister colony across the ocean, testifying to the link that joined the two together in men’s minds …”
M. Perceval-Maxwell, The Scottish Migration to Ulster (London, 1973), p 14.
Jamestown 2007 – America’s 400th Anniversary (www.jamestown2007.org)
Virtual Jamestown (www.virtualjamestown.org)
Captain John Smith ARIES Project (www.captainjohnsmith.co.uk)
John Smith 400 Project (www.johnsmith400.org)
Jamestown 1607 (www.jamestown1607.org)
Jamestown Yorktown (www.historyisfun.org)