Hancock Family History
This Hancock History was written by Lisa at
The Hancock Page
The name Hancock is an English name, meaning "son of John". The first of my
Hancock ancestors to come to America was
William Hancock. He
arrived in America in 1619. He had at least three children,
and William. He was a member of the Virginia Company, which was a group of
businessmen who were granted a charter in June, 1606 by King James I. The
purpose of the Virginia Company was to establish an English settlement in
the Chesapeake area of North America. They planned to mine gold, cut timber,
and undertake various other projects, which they believed would make them
richer than they already were.
The first group of settlers employed by The Virginia Company left England
in December, 1606 bound for America. On May 13, 1607, these men settled on
Jamestown Island, about 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. They
built James' Fort, which was named for King James I. This area later became
known as Jamestown. In the fall of 1608, a second supply of settlers were
sent to James Fort. On this passenger list is the name Nicholas Hancock, a
possible relative of William's. Nicholas' fate is unknown, as he is never
mentioned again. This leads me to believe that he probably died soon after
Almost from the moment they arrived, the settlers were under constant
attack by the local Algonquian Indians. The chief of this tribe was
Powhatan, the father of Pocahantas. Pocahantas became friends with Captain
John Smith during this time, but a romance between the two was very
unlikely, as she was only ten years old. Powhatan also became friends with
Captain Smith, and this helped ease some of the tension between the Indians
and settlers. Pocahantas was a frequent visitor to James Fort and the
settlers became accustomed to seeing her frequently.
For unknown reasons, the tension between the Indians and settlers
returned and Pocahantas visited the fort less often. Captain Smith returned
to England in 1609, after being injured in a gunpowder explosion. Pocahantas
was told he had been killed. In 1610, it is believed that Pocahantas married
Kocoum, another Indian from her tribe. Kocoum's fate is unknown, but in
1613, Pocahantas moved to a new settlement, Henrico, and began her education
in the Christian faith. She also met a successful tobacco planter named John
Rolfe. Pocahantas was baptized and christened as "Rebecca", and on April 5,
1614, she married John Rolfe, with her father's blessings. As a result of
this marriage, there was peace at last between the English settlers and the
In the spring of 1616, the couple, along with their young son, Thomas,
decided to travel to England. Pocahantas drew a large crowd all over London
with her dark skin and beauty. She met King James I, and the royal family
loved her. She also saw her friend, Captain John Smith, who she still
believed was dead. The family stayed in England for seven months before
deciding to return to Virginia. In March, 1617 they set sail. It was soon
apparent that Pocahantas would not survive the trip home, as she was deathly
ill from pneumonia or possibly tuberculosis. She died before the ship left
the English waters. She was 22 years old.
Upon returning to Virginia, Rolfe told Powhatan of Pocahantas' death.
Powhatan was so grief-stricken that he turned over leadership of the tribe
to his brother, Opechancanough, and left the tribe, going out into the
wilderness. He was never seen again. Many people thought he went into the
wilderness and grieved himself to death.
According to a record contained in an old Hancock family Bible, William
left England in 1619, aboard the ship "Margaret of Bristol" bound for
America. He was coming to America in search of lumber for his shipbuilding
business. Leaving his family behind in England, William sailed out through
the Bristol Channel on Thursday, September 16, 1619. The "Margaret" dropped
anchor in Chesapeake Bay on November 30, 1619. Then on December 4, 1619,
William stepped off the "Margaret" and onto American soil at a site on the
north shore of the James River, about halfway between present-day
Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia. The Berkeley Hundred Plantation was
built at this location. It is still there today, but none of the original
houses are still standing.
Berkeley Hundred Plantation is a huge plantation consisting of many
homes. It resembled a small village. It was also the site for the first
official Thanksgiving Day Service held in America, which William Hancock
attended. Berkeley Hundred Plantation was the home of many of the first
Govenors of Virginia, and later home to many early American Presidents.
"Thorpe's House" at Berkeley Hundred Plantation was home to several of
the English gentlemen who were associated with the Virginia Company. This is
where William lived. It was owned by Captain George Thorpe. Captain Thorpe
put much confidence in the Indians and wanted to convert them to a more
civilized way of life. During the winter of 1621-1622, it seemed he was
making progress. The Indians seemed more friendly and were frequent visitors
to the plantation and other surrounding settlements. The settlers were
convinced that their Indian troubles were over. Little did they know, it was
all a trick.
In the early morning hours of March 22, 1621/22, which was Good Friday,
groups of Indians drifted into the settlement of Berkeley Hundred. They were
unarmed, but soon armed themselves with guns and knives that were easily
accessible in most homes. They then attacked the settlers. William Hancock,
along with about 300 others were massacred. It was said the settlers were so
surprised, they never had a chance to defend themselves.
There was one Indian who had befriended a family in Jamestown. When he
learned of the impending attack, he couldn't bear the thought of this family
being killed. He warned this family of the attack, and he was credited with
saving Jamestown. When the attackers arrived at Jamestown, they were met by
armed settlers. The Indians returned to their tribe without incident.
The Indians were hoping this attack would be enough to cause the
remaining settlers to return to their homeland, but that did not happen. The
settlers had just made it through their roughest winter yet, and were
determined not to leave. The attack did; however, cause the settlers to
never trust the Indians again.
In 1630, William's oldest son and heir, Augustin, came to Virginia to
claim his father's vast estate. Simon came to America in 1635 and settled in
what is now Princess Anne County, Virginia. William came to America about
1638, and settled in Virginia.