Today there are approximately 30 million Americans (perhaps 10% of the population) who can trace their ancestry back to at least one of the Mayflower passengers of 1620. Of course, most of these people have no idea whether or how they are a descendant. I am descended from four of these adventurous pioneers, but they were not the first of my family to arrive on the shores of North America. More than a decade before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, my 11th great grandfather, Capt. William King, landed at Jamestown.
In 1609, he commanded the ship Diamond (along with a Capt. Ratcliffe), as a member of the so-called “Third Supply” mission to Jamestown, Virginia. The first English colonists had reached Jamestown in 1607. The “Third Supply” mission was undertaken at a critical time of the beginning of the Jamestown Colony and of the English colonization in the New World. Other colonization attempts were made prior to Jamestown, but all had failed prior to this time. The supply fleet consisted of nine ships and 500-600 colonists (including the first group of women and children). During the voyage, a hurricane sank one ship, Catch, and wrecked the flagship Sea Venture on the coast of Bermuda. The remainder of the fleet (minus Catch and Sea Venture), including the Diamond, arrived in Jamestown on 18 Aug 1609 (reckoned by the “old style” calendar). In late 1609, on the return voyage, Diamond was wrecked in a storm near the English coast, and Capt. William King was lost at sea. My first ancestor to reach Virginia never actually settled there.
Some years later, Capt. William King’s son, Capt. John King, of the ship Falcon (who went first to Barbados and then to Virginia), ultimately settled in Virginia and established the family line in that colony. However, it was his father, who never settled permanently in the colony, who was my first ancestor to visit American shores.
You can read more about Capt. William King and his family line —> here, as well as the fascinating story of what happened to the Sea Venture castaways on Bermuda. Elsewhere on this site, I have compiled the stories the this Southern branch of my family. Over the course of three centuries, the family followed the great waterways of Virginia (the James, the Rappahannock and the Potomac) to the falls of the Piedmont and beyond. Various tributaries merged, including an influx of French Huguenot refugees at Manakintown (near modern-day Richmond) around 1700, then continued over the western mountains of Virginia, through the Cumberland Gap (a decade or so prior to 1800), into Kentucky, across the prairies of Missouri and Kansas, and settled in the Colorado Territory during the second half of the 19th century. In Colorado Springs, the Southern branch converges with the more numerous Yankee branches of the family, whose roots extend back almost as far in the colonies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Netherland (New York). (21)