Jamestown Settlement, Jamestown, Virginia, USA
Re-creations of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 are on exhibit at Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia.
The original Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery set sail from London on December 20, 1606, bound for Virginia.
The ships carried 105 passengers and 39 crew members on the four-month transatlantic voyage. A 17th-century source noted that a total of 71 people were aboard the Susan Constant, 52 aboard the Godspeed and 21 aboard the Discovery. The expedition was sponsored by the Virginia
Company of London, a business venture that had been organized to form a colony in Virginia. The fleet reached the Virginia coast in late April and, after two weeks of inland waterway exploration, arrived at the selected settlement site on May 13, 1607.
At the time of the voyage, the Susan Constant was
about one year old and was leased from Dapper, Wheatley, Colthurst and other partners. The origins of the Godspeed and Discovery are uncertain. The Susan Constant and Godspeed returned to England in June 1607, while the Discovery remained in Virginia and was used for Chesapeake Bay and coastal exploration.
The Jamestown Settlement re-creations have been
designated “the official fleet of the Commonwealth” by the Virginia General Assembly.
While the Susan Constant and Godspeed sail periodically from Jamestown Settlement to participate in commemorative and community events and host educational programs for students, most of the time the ships can be seen at the museum. Costumed historical interpreters assist visitors in exploring the ships and learning about the 1607 voyage and 17th-century shipboard activities.
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