Matoaka was the beautiful and lively daughter of Powhatan, ruler of the land that the English named Virginia. "Pocahontas" was her childhood nickname, translated as "little wanton," meaning she was playful and hard to control. When she was born, Powhatan sent her mother home to her own village, to raise Pocahontas. That was his custom. When she was about school age, Pocahontas left her mother to live in her father's capital, with with her older brothers and sisters. As they grew up, Powhatan appointed some as chiefs of his other tribes. Pocahontas became her father's favorite, "the apple of his eye".
Pocahontas is most famous for saving the life of Captain John Smith. This story has been retold many times in many ways. Disney's Pocahontas was their first attempt to rewrite a historic event, instead of a fairy tale. As usual, the Disney version resembled the original just enough to confuse everyone. Here is the original story, told by Captain John Smith himself.
“...Two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could laid hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beate out his braines, Pocahontas the King's dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne upon his to save him from death: whereat the Emperour was contented he should live to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads, and copper...”
“Two days after, Powhatan, having disguised himself in the most fearfulest manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods and there upon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not long after, from behind a mat that divided the house, was made the most dolefulest noise he ever heard; then Powhatan more like a devil than a man, with some two hundred more as black as himself, came unto him and told him now they were friends...”
When Smith returned, there were only 38 colonists left (out of 104). Pocahontas kept the colonists from starving to death that first Winter, by visiting regularly with plenty of food. Pocahontas paid regular visits to her friend Captain John Smith, but in October 1609, she was told that Smith was dead. She stopped visiting after that. The following Winter was known as the Starving Time. Actually, Smith wasn't dead; his leg was badly burned in a gunpowder explosion, and he had returned to England for medical treatment. The colonists thought the death story would work better with the Indians.
Several years passed, with no sign of Pocahontas. Ralph Hamor heard that she had married one of Powhatan's chiefs, named Kocoum. Captain Argyle discovered that Pochaontas was staying with the Patowamekes, and captured her on June 4, 1613, intending to trade her for concessions from Powhatan. Powhatan only met enough of the demands to keep negotiations open. During her captivity, leading colonists worked to convert her to Christianity. One of those colonists, John Rolfe, fell in love with her, and she with him. Pocahontas was baptised as a Christian, and married John Rolfe in 1614. Her new name was Lady Rebecca Rolfe. She gave birth to a son, Thomas. This marriage created the "Peace of Pocahontas", six years of peace between the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan's tribes.
Pocahontas' life ended on a high note, with a triumphal tour of England (arriving June 3, 1616) as a visiting princess. She visited many important people, including King James and Queen Anne. Her portrait was made and published. This part of her life is covered in Disney's Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, with the usual Disney rewrite. As she started home, English disease took her life. She was buried in the church at Gravesend, England (Mar. 17, 1617) age 21 or so. (Her exact birth date is uncertain: roughly 1595.) Links to Pocahontas biographies.
The Disney movie, Pocahontas, is accurate in many respects. It captures the spirit of the woman Pocahontas and her people, and the spirit of the early days of Jamestown. The settings are accurate: both James Fort and Powhatan village life are portrayed authentically, according to current historical and archaeological knowledge (except that there was no bluff overlooking James Fort). London, the Virginia wilderness, and the ship Susan Constant were carefully researched. John Ratcliffe was indeed in charge of the colony when John Smith was captured and released by Powhatan. And last but not least, John Smith wrote that he was saved from execution by Powhatan, when Pocahontas threw herself between Smith's head and the stone clubs of the Indians.
The rest of the movie is pure fiction. Apparently, one Disney guy wanted to do a "Romeo and Juliet" story, while another wanted to do an American Frontier movie. They put both ideas together and came up with "Pocahontas", with Smith as Romeo and Pocahontas as Juliet. It was not intended as a history, but how would you know that? Let's compare the Disney version to real life.
In Real Life
Pocahontas and John Smith were both young adults when they met. Pocahontas was a girl of 11; Smith was a man of 28.
Pocahontas had an amazing figure, and wore a leather minidress with one shoulder strap. She had a tatoo.Pocahontas was a naked child when she visited John Smith in Jamestown.For Winter warmth, she would wear a mantle; one of hers was covered with feathers. When she turned 12, she started wearing a leather dress with or without one shoulder strap. Dresses were often decorated with pictures of animals, birds, or tortoises. She probably did have tatoos.
John Smith was tall and clean shaven. He wore tight pants and some armor. John Smith was short, had a full beard, and wore puffy pants (like everyone else). He did wear the type of armor shown.
The colonists sailed on the Susan Constant.The colonists sailed in three ships: the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.
Ratcliffe was governor of the colony, so he was in charge during the voyage. The colony did not have a governor for the first couple of years. It had a council with a president. Captain Newport was admiral and fleet commander during the voyage of 1607. After they landed, they opened the secret orders to see who was on the governing council. (It was Smith, Ratcliffe, Wingfield, Newport, Gosnol, Martin, and Kendall.) The council elected Wingfield as the first president. Ratcliffe was elected president in September, 1607. Captain John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown Virginia in 1608. In 1609, Smith left, and Percy became President. Thomas West (Baron De La Warre) was appointed the first Governor in 1609, but he did not arrive until 1610.
As soon as they landed, John Smith started scouting around.John Smith was arrested and clapped in irons during the voyage, and was not released until a month after the landing at Jamestown. After that, he did plenty of exploring and trading. He mapped most of the area.
John Smith was captured when ventured out alone at night to meet Pocahontas. John Smith was captured on an expedition one day in December, when he and his Indian guide split off from the other two Englishmen.
John Smith's compass showed Pocahontas where her true path lay. When Opechancanough captured him, John Smith used his compass to demonstrate “the roundnesse of the earth and skies, the spheare of the Sunne, Moone, and Starres, and how the Sunne did chase the night round about the world continually: the greatnesse of the Land and Sea, the diversitie of Nations, varietie of Complexions, and how we were to them Antipodes...” (Wow! He said all that in Algonquian?)
John Smith was going to be executed on top of a bluff at dawn, in front of an army of colonists who had come to rescue him. It appeared that John Smith was going to be executed in Powhatan's long house, in front of Powhatan's warriors and counselors. The colonists did not know where he was.
John Smith and Pocahontas met in the wilderness and fell in love, like Romeo and Juliet.John Smith met Pocahontas when she "rescued" him from execution. Powhatan then adopted Smith as his son, "Nantaquoud".
Pocahontas and her new kinsman became good friends.
Pocahontas was engaged to Kocoum, but she chose John Smith instead. This really belongs in Pocahontas II. After John Smith went home to England, then Pocahontas was engaged to Kocoum, but she chose John Rolfe instead.
Pocahontas had animal friends. Percy was Ratcliffe's dog. Thomas was a young colonist friend of Smith's. George Percy was a prominent colonist who followed Smith as council president, and wrote two books about his experiences. A clever name for the dog! Thomas Savage, young laborer, arrived in January 1608, and was sent to live with Powhatan the next month, sort of like a "cultural exchange student".
The movie is just a cartoon musical, after all. Disney was more interested in telling a good story than in sticking to the facts. The Disney folks did put in some clever references to the history, and some of the action is inspired by history. If you know the history, it adds to the pleasure of the movie. If you think this is history, you will be confused. The story continues with Pocahontas II.
Disney's Pocahontas II
In Real Life
Back in England, Ratcliffe tries to have Smith killed. Smith escapes but decides to lay low. Pocahontas hears that he has died. When Smith was evacuated to England for treatment of his gunpowder wound in October 1609, the colonists told Pocahontas that he had died.
Still believing that Virginia is full of gold, Ratcliffe schemes up a war. King James appoints him Admiral of the invasion armada. The same month Smith left Virginia, October 1609, Ratcliffe was caught by the Indians, and died a horrible death.
Handsome diplomat John Rolfe is dispached to Virginia. He manages to mistake Pocahontas for the chief at first, but recovers quickly. While Pocahontas was being held hostage at Jamestown in 1613, she met colonist John Rolfe, a successful tobacco planter and sincere Christian. She converted to Christianity and married him in April 1614.
Pocahontas and Rolfe rush to England, on a desperate mission to avert the war.The "Peace of Pocahontas" began with the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe. Their son Thomas was born around 1615. In 1616, the Virginia Company sent the Rolfe family on a promotional English tour, with several other Indians and colonists.
Uttamatomakkin is supposed to tally the population of England, by cutting a notch in his stick for each man he sees. He soon gives up! True story!
Pocahontas attends the Hunt Ball at the royal court, where Ratcliffe sets a trap for her. She is arrested, and thrown into prison at the Tower of London.Pocahontas attended the lavish Twelth Night Masque at the royal court. A great time was had by all.
Pocahontas is relieved to see John Smith alive, as he and John Rolfe rescue her from the Tower.John Smith did visit Pocahontas. She was so shocked, she hid her face, and could not speak for two or three hours. Finally, she said, “They did tell me always you were dead, and I knew no other ’till I came to Plymouth. Yet Powhatan did command Uttamatomakkin to seek you, and know the truth – because your countrymen will lie much.”
Pocahontas and John Rolfe set sail for Virginia. Love is in the air. The End.The Rolfe family set sail for Virginia, but disease was in the air. Pocahontas died at Gravesend.
Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas. As a young werowance (chief), Powhatan inherited the leadership of eight tribes, which he built into a loose empire controlling Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers, bounded on the West by the fall line – basically tideland Virginia, plus he had some control over Maryland and the Eastern Shore. Map. As the Mamanatowick, he ruled over 28 tribes, or maybe 34, depending how you count them. His domain had a hard core and soft edges. Each Powhatan tribe had its own villages, with houses of bark over wooden frames. They planted corn, vegetables, and tobacco; they hunted and fished. Every few years, the local land would be depleted, so they would abandon the old village and rebuild a few miles away.
In 1607, English colonists of the Virginia Company arrived, hoping to make their fortune (as depicted in the movie). Initially, they built a wooden palisade fort, James Fort, which gradually became the English colonial village of James Towne, or Jamestown. Relations in the early days were chaotic. On any given week, the settlers at James Fort could be fighting with one of Powhatan's tribes, while trading peacefully with others. The various tribes fought with each other as well.
Powhatan lived long, and allegedly had 100 wives, with one child by each. There were a dozen known children of his; Pocahontas was his favorite. King James had Powhatan coronated Emperor of Virginia. (This made Pocahontas a princess, theoretically outranking a lot of the English nobility when she visited England. The English had not yet decided how to treat "savages".) Links for the Powhatan Indians.
Captain John Smith really was the intrepid soldier-adventurer portrayed in the Disney movie "Pocahontas"...other than his looks and personality. He was a short man who wore a beard. Like many famous shorties, he was feisty, abrasive, self-promoting, and ambitious. He was an experienced soldier and adventurer, the man who boldly went out and got things done. If not for him, the colony may have failed at the start – according to him, anyway.
The Disney movie "Pocahontas" centers on the most famous incident in the lives of all involved, in which Pocahontas rescued John Smith from execution by her father, Powhatan. Captain John Smith himself is the sole source for this tale, in a book he wrote several years afterwards. It was not in his initial report, and was not mentioned by other writers at the time, so historians have always wondered what really went on. This most famous incident may never have happened, since Smith liked to tell stories about himself being rescued by famous ladies. Perhaps John Smith made it up; perhaps it was a show orchestrated by Powhatan, with Pocahontas "saving" John Smith as planned; perhaps it went down just as Smith described.
His stay in Virginia was compressed in the movie. He arrived in 1607, was rescued by Pocahontas that Winter, became council President in September 1608, and was shipped back to England on a stretcher in October 1609, after a mysterious incident in which his powder bag exploded, injuring his leg. During that time he did a lot of exploring, trading, negotiating, arguing, and fighting, both with the Indians and with other colonists. Afterwards, he largely supported himself by writing about his experiences. Links for Captain John Smith.
The only thing we really know about Kocoum is an offhand written comment that she had been married to "Kocoum, a captainne of Powhatan." Disney chose to assume that Powhatan arranged a marriage, but that Kocoum was killed before it was finalized. Powhatan chiefs would sometimes give a young daughter in honorary marriage, often to form an alliance. When they grew up, their marriage might become real, or they might decide to marry someone else. What really happened there? Your guess is as good as any. The Indians also had a tradition of "divorce by capture", which required the husband of a stolen wife to recapture her. Since Kocoum did not rescue her from the colonists, then Pocahontas was unmarried, when John Rolfe asked for her hand in marriage.
Pocahontas may have had a girlish crush on John Smith, but the man she married was John Rolfe. John Rolfe and his first wife sailed for Jamestown aboard the Sea Venture in 1609, but they were shipwrecked in Bermuda by a terrible storm. A report of that very event, by a fellow passenger, might have inspired Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest". While in Bermuda, Mrs. Rolfe gave birth to a daughter, Bermuda, who soon died. After building new boats in Bermuda, the colonists arrived in Jamestown on May 24, 1610. Mrs. Rolfe herself soon died.
John Rolfe was a pipe smoker. So were the Indians, but their tobacco tasted harsh. Rolfe managed to acquire some seeds of the fragrant tobacco from the Spanish colonies, and grew them in 1612. When his new tobacco was sold in London, it was a hit! At last, the struggling colony had found its key to financial success.
In 1613, John Rolfe fell in love with the captive Pocahontas, and obtained permission from Powhatan and the Governor to marry. Their marriage brought six years of peace to the colony. The Rolfes had one child, Thomas Rolfe, whom they brought to England with them. When Pocahontas died on the way back, Thomas was also sick, and was left behind to be raised by relatives. John Rolfe would never see him again. John Rolfe became Recorder and Secretary General of the Colony in 1617, member of the Council in 1619, and sat in the Virginia Assembly of 1619 – the first American legislature. His third wife was Jane Pierce, daughter of Captain William Pierce. Their daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1620.
In 1618, Powhatan's brother, Opechancanough, attempted to give Virginia and the chiefdom to Thomas Rolfe, to be held in reserve until he was of age. Governor Argall passed the word to the Virginia Company, who rebuffed the offer. In 1622, Opechancanough attacked the colony and massacred 350 people in one hour. Henrico was hit hard. Jamestown was warned by Chanco, a Christian Indian. That was the year John Rolfe died. Although he lived in Henrico, we don't know if he was killed in the massacre. He was sick, and had made out his will the previous year.
When he was 20, Thomas Rolfe moved back to Virginia to claim his parents' land, and stayed. Thomas was an only child, who had one daughter, Jane Rolfe, who had one son, Robert Bolling. Robert Bolling had many children, who did likewise, and today, over 100,000 Americans can proudly say that they are descended from Pocahontas. I am one of them.
A 1616 engraving of Pocahontas by Simon de Passe.
The caption reads "Matoaks als Rebecka daughter to the mighty Prince Powhâtan Emperour of Attanoughkomouck als virginia converted and baptized in the Christian faith, and wife to the wor.ff Mr. Joh Rolff ."
The inscription under the portrait reads "Ætatis suæ 21 A. 1616", Latin for "at the age of 21 in the year 1616".
Pocahontas (c. 1595 – March 21, 1617) was a Virginia Indian woman who married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and became a celebrity in London in the last year of her life. She was a daughter of Wahunsunacawh (also known as Chief or Emperor Powhatan), who ruled an area encompassing almost all of the tribes in the Tidewater region of Virginia (called Tenakomakah at the time).
Pocahontas's formal names were Matoaka (or Matoika) and Amonute; Pocahontas was a childhood nickname referring to her frolicsome nature (in the Powhatan language it meant "little wanton", according to William Strachey). The eighteenth century historian William Stith claimed that "the Indians carefully concealed [her real name] from the English, and changed it to Pocahontas, out of a superstitious Fear, lest they, by the knowledge of her true Name, should be enabled to do her some hurt."After her baptism, Pocahontas went by the name Rebecca, becoming Rebecca Rolfe on her marriage.
Encounter with John Smith
19th century illustration of Pocahontas saving Smith's life.
A Pocahontas statue was erected in Historic Jamestowne in 1922
In May 1607, when the English colonists arrived in Virginia and began building settlements, Pocahontas was between twelve and fourteen years old, and her father was the leader of the Powhatan Confederacy. One of the leading colonists, John Smith, subsequently recounted that he was captured by a group of Powhatan hunters and brought to Werowocomoco, one of the chief villages of the Powhatan Empire. According to Smith, he was laid across a stone and was about to be executed (by being beaten with clubs), when Pocahontas threw herself across his body: "Pocahontas, the Kings dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne upon his to save him from death".She earned respect from the other people and the English Settlements.
John Smith's version of events is the only source, and, since the 1860s, skepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is: despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith's earliest surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly ten years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity.The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas's image; however, in a recent book, J.A.O. Lemay points out that Smith's earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experience; hence, there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.
Further skepticism has arisen from the fact that in his True Travels of 1630, Smith told a very similar story of being rescued through the intervention of a beautiful young girl after he was captured by Turks in Hungary in 1602; Karen Kupperman suggests that he "presented those remembered events from decades earlier" when telling Pocahontas's story.A different theory suggests that even if Smith's version of events was accurate from his perspective, he may in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe.However, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other North American tribes.
Whatever really happened, this encounter initiated a friendly relationship with Smith and the Jamestown colony, and Pocahontas would often come to the settlement and play games with the boys there.During a time when the colonists were starving, "every once in four or five days, Pocahontas with her attendants brought him [Smith] so much provision that saved many of their lives that else for all this had starved with hunger."As the colonists expanded further, however, some of the Virginia Indians felt their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.
In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan on friendly terms. They were treated kindly and traded with the Indians, but they missed the tide and had to spend the night. That night, Pocahontas came to Smith's hut and told him that her father was planning to send men with food who would kill them when they put down their weapons to eat. She had been told not to inform them, but she begged the Englishmen to leave. Being forewarned, the English kept their weapons ready by them even while eating, and no attack came.
In 1609, an injury from a gunpowder explosion forced Smith to return to England for medical care. The English told the natives Smith was dead, that he had been captured by a French pirate, that the pirate ship had been wrecked on the Brittany coast, and that it had gone down with all hands.Pocahontas believed Smith was dead until she arrived in England several years later, the wife of John Rolfe.
According to William Strachey, Pocahontas married a Powhatan warrior called Kocoum at some point before 1612; nothing more is known about this marriage.
There is no suggestion in any of the historical records that Smith and Pocahontas were lovers. This romantic version of the story appears only in fictionalized versions of their relationship (such as the animated version by Walt Disney-though a romance was first written about as early as the 1800s.)
The Abduction of Pocahontas, engraving by Johann Theodore de Bry, c. 1618
In March 1613, Pocahontas was residing at Passapatanzy, a village of the Patawomecks, a Virginia Indian tribe that did some trading with Powhatans. They lived in present-day Stafford County on the Potomac River near Fredericksburg, about 65 miles (105 km) from Werowocomoco. Smith writes in his Generall Historie she had been in the care of the Patawomec chief, Japazaws (or Japazeus), since 1611 or 1612.
When two English colonists began trading with the Patawomec, they discovered Pocahontas' presence. With the help of Japazaws, they tricked Pocahontas into captivity. Their purpose, as they explained in a letter, was to ransom her for some English prisoners held by Chief Powhatan, along with various weapons and tools the Powhatans had stolen.Powhatan returned the prisoners, but failed to satisfy the colonists with the amount of weapons and tools he returned, and a long standoff ensued.
During the year-long wait, Pocahontas was kept at Henricus, in modern-day Chesterfield County, Virginia. Little is known about her life there although colonist Ralph Hamor wrote she received "extraordinary courteous usage."An English minister, Alexander Whitaker, taught her about Christianity and helped to improve her English. After she was baptized, she took the name Rebecca as her English name.
In March 1614, the standoff built to a violent confrontation between hundreds of English and Powhatan men on the Pamunkey River. At the Powhatan town of Matchcot, the English encountered a group that included some of the senior Powhatan leaders (but not Chief Powhatan himself, who was away). The English permitted Pocahontas to talk to her countrymen; however, according to the deputy governor, Thomas Dale, Pocahontas rebuked her absent father for valuing her "less than old swords, pieces, or axes" and told them she preferred to live with the English.However, Pocahontas was raped at a young age by Thomas Dale.Pocahontas told her older sister that she was raped by Thomas Dale and she had no reason to lie about it.Rape was one of the worst crimes in a Virginia Indian's eyes and resulted in severe punishment, even death.
Marriage to John Rolfe
John Gadsby Chapman, The Baptism of Pocahontas (1840)
During her stay in Henricus, Pocahontas met John Rolfe. Rolfe, whose English-born wife had died, had successfully cultivated a new strain of tobacco in Virginia and spent much of his time there tending to his crop. He was a pious man who agonized over the potential moral repercussions of marrying a heathen. In a long letter to the governor requesting permission to wed her, he expressed both his love for her and his belief he would be saving her soul. He claimed he was motivated not by:
"the unbridled desire of carnal affection, but for the good of this plantation, for the honor of our country, for the Glory of God, for my own salvation… namely Pocahontas, to whom my hearty and best thoughts are, and have been a long time so entangled, and enthralled in so intricate a labyrinth that I was even a-wearied to unwind myself thereout."
Pocahontas's feelings about Rolfe and the marriage are unknown.
They were married on April 5, 1614. For a few years after the marriage, the couple lived together on Rolfe's plantation, Varina Farms, which was located across the James River from the new community of Henricus. They had a child, Thomas Rolfe, born on January 30, 1615.
Their marriage was unsuccessful in winning the English captives back, but it did create a climate of peace between the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan's tribes for several years; in 1615, Ralph Hamor wrote ever since the wedding "we have had friendly commerce and trade not only with Powhatan but also with his subjects round about us".
Journey to England and death
A photograph of the "Sedgeford Portrait," said to represent Pocahontas and her son although its authenticity is debated.
The Virginia Colony's sponsors found it difficult to lure new colonists and investors to Jamestown. They used Pocahontas as an enticement and as evidence to convince people in Europe the New World's natives could be colonized, and the settlement made safe.In 1616, the Rolfes traveled to England, arriving at the port of Plymouth on the 12th of June and, then journeying to London by coach in June 1616. They were accompanied by a group of around eleven other Powhatan natives including Tomocomo, a holy man.John Smith was living in London at the time and, while Pocahontas was in Plymouth she learned he was still alive.Smith did not meet Pocahontas at this point, but he wrote a letter to Queen Anne urging Pocahontas be treated with respect as a royal visitor, because if she were treated badly, her "present love to us and Christianity might turn to… scorn and fury", and England might lose the chance to "rightly have a Kingdom by her means".
Pocahontas was entertained at various society gatherings. On January 5, 1617 she and Tomocomo were brought before the King at the Banqueting House in Whitehall Palace at a performance of Ben Jonson's masque The Vision of Delight. According to Smith, King James was so unprepossessing neither of the Natives realized whom they had met until it was explained to them afterward.
Pocahontas and Rolfe lived in the suburb of Brentford, Middlesex for some time, as well as Rolfe's family home at Heacham Hall, Heacham, Norfolk. In early 1617, Smith visited them at a social gathering. According to Smith, when Pocahontas saw him "without any words, she turned about, obscured her face, as not seeming well contented" and was left alone for two or three hours. Later, they spoke more; Smith's record of what she said to him is fragmentary and enigmatic. She reminded him of the "courtesies she had done" and "you did promise Powhatan what was yours would be his, and he the like to you". She then discomfited him by calling him "father", explaining Smith had called Powhatan "father" when a stranger in Virginia, "and by the same reason so must I do you". Smith did not accept this form of address, since Pocahontas outranked him as "a King's daughter". Pocahontas then, "with a well-set countenance", said
"Were you not afraid to come into my father's country and caused fear in him and all his people (but me) and fear you here I should call you 'father'? I tell you then I will, and you shall call me child, and so I will be for ever and ever your countryman.
Finally, she said the natives had thought Smith dead but her father had told Tomocomo to seek him "because your countrymen will lie much".
Statue of Pocahontas in Saint George's church, Gravesend, Kent, England
In March 1617, Rolfe and Pocahontas boarded a ship to return to Virginia. However, the ship had only gone as far as Gravesend on the River Thames when Pocahontas became ill.She was taken ashore and died. It is unknown what caused her death but the theories range from smallpox, pneumonia, or tuberculosis to her having been poisoned. According to Rolfe, she died saying "all must die, but tis enough that her child liveth." Her funeral took place on March 21, 1617 in the parish of Saint George's, Gravesend. The site of her grave is unknown, but her memory is recorded in Gravesend with a life-size bronze statue at St George's Church.