Strachey of course means the second plantation and not the first, which, according to the weight of authority, consisted of only fifteen men and no women.
In George Percy’s Discourse concerning Captain Newport’s exploration of the River James in 1607 (printed in Purchas’s “Pilgrims”) is this sentence: “At Port Cotage, in our voyage up the river, we saw a savage boy, about the age of ten years, which had a head of hair of a perfect yellow, and reasonably white skin, which is a miracle amongst all savages.” Mr. Neill, in his “History of the Virginia Company,” says that this boy “was no doubt the offspring of the colonists left at Roanoke by White, of whom four men, two boys, and one young maid had been preserved from slaughter by an Indian Chief.” Under the circumstances, “no doubt” is a very strong expression for a historian to use.
This belief in the sometime survival of the Roanoke colonists, and their amalgamation with the Indians, lingered long in colonial gossip. Lawson, in his History, published in London in 1718, mentions a tradition among the Hatteras Indians, “that several of their ancestors were white people and could talk from a book; the truth of which is confirmed by gray eyes being among these Indians and no others.”
But the myth of Virginia Dare stands no chance beside that of Pocahontas.
FIRST PLANTING OF THE COLONY
The way was now prepared for the advent of Captain John Smith in Virginia. It is true that we cannot give him his own title of its discoverer, but the plantation had been practically abandoned, all the colonies had ended in disaster, all the governors and captains had lacked the gift of perseverance or had been early drawn into other adventures, wholly disposed, in the language of Captain John White, “to seek after purchase and spoils,” and but for the energy and persistence of Captain Smith the expedition of 1606 might have had no better fate. It needed a man of tenacious will to hold a colony together in one spot long enough to give it root. Captain Smith was that man, and if we find him glorying in his exploits, and repeating upon single big Indians the personal prowess that distinguished him in Transylvania and in the mythical Nalbrits, we have only to transfer our sympathy from the Turks to the Sasquesahanocks if the sense of his heroism becomes oppressive.