You know when you buy a new car and for some time thereafter you seem to see others of the same model every time you venture out?

Well, I haven’t bought a Chesapeake, but, ever since my mention of Chesapeake Mill on 4th, it has followed me around. First, Barrie Haynes sent me details of how the mill got its name, with a picture of USS Chesapeake, which I added to my post; then Chesapeake Bay turned up in a book I have just finished reading.

The volume is a history of the first thirty years of England’s attempts to colonise Virginia. This, ‘Big Chief Elizabeth’, by Giles Milton, is no dry tome. It reads as the rollicking adventure story that it is. It is also a mystery tale concerning the fate of the first settlers on Roanoke Island. The reader is gripped from the start. The writing is fluid, with judicious use of quotations that enhance the text rather than simply fill it out. More than half a millennium on, and in full knowledge of the European taking of America, we really want to know the outcome. That, of course, is why I can give no more detail. It is perhaps fortuitous that I should have begun reading this at Thanksgiving time.

My Folio Society edition is well illustrated, with photographs,

Chief's wife and daughterChief Wingina

such as these of John White’s portraits from 1485,

Roanoke map 001Roanoke map 002

and useful maps by Reginald Piggot;

Big Chief Elizabeth001

and sports a front board decoration by Gavin Morris.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole; mashed potato; boiled carrots, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. I consumed more of the cabernet sauvignon.


  1. Funny what you said about names. Ever since I’d been named Mary I’ve seen my name on everything. It seems I was named after a famous virgin and there’s been mountains and rivers and schools and churches and streets and lots and lots of girls named after us. At school I was in a class of five Mary. The name lost popularity once but there’s been a bit of a come back just as virginity itself has become a valued commodity since we’ve become more fundamentally religious.

  2. There is some evidence that the folks of Roanoke migrated south and joined up with the Seminoles. In any event, I love the old illustrations and maps.

  3. Are you implying there is another “ending” to America’s origins? 🙂 I hope you will let us know, Derrick.
    I enjoyed how you started this with how when you are fixated on a subject, you hear or see references to the subject. It is funny, like our mind opens to the “new subject” possibilities. Thanks for sharing the interesting pieces of history, Derrick.

    1. Thank you, Robin. I didn’t want to spoil the story for anyone who wanted to read it, although there is a suggestion at the end of the book. Have you seen arlingwoman’s comment?

  4. Well here’s another little connection: I grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia, just north of the Virginia/Carolina line, and spent many of my teens summers galavanting up and down the Outer Banks. I can see my home on your map, although it’s not labelled. 🙂 All very familiar to me.
    And like you, I was always intrigued by the mystery of the lost colony. It seems funny to me that I now live in a city that shares its name.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. It seemed such a long way from England back then, but what a small world it is. I’d not taken in that you lived in Roanoke. It must be serendipity that of all the titles I could have given this post, I chose that one. Thank you Ashley

  5. I DO know what you mean about the sort of attention to what is on one’s mind when it wasn’t previously even on your radar before. I love the illustrations above.

  6. I’m so glad I saw this post! The maps show my part of the world!
    I visit the Outer Banks and the Chesapeake Bay at least once per year, and my parents live in Williamsburg, which is right next to Jamestown.
    If you have a second and want to see some pictures from the Middle Peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay, check out this link
    In addition, while I live in Southwest Virginia, in the mountains, the nearest big city is Roanoke 🙂

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