Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Nation & World


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published May 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 10, 2007 at 2:02 AM

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Jamestown's "starving time" reveals unsavory tales of cannibalism

The famished Jamestown colonists began by eating their horses. The horses were followed by rats, mice, dogs, cats, snakes and ... boots boots. Then they...

The Washington Post

The famished Jamestown colonists began by eating their horses. The horses were followed by rats, mice, dogs, cats, snakes and ... boots.

Then they began eyeing each other.

They would later call it the "starving time," winter 1609-10. Some colonists dug their own graves and lay down in them, resigned to death.

They boiled their fancy collars, or ruffs, for the starch. They ate their dead.

George Percy, one of Jamestown's early leaders, in about 1625 provided what is probably the best-known and most gruesome account.

He described a "worlde of miseries" that included hunger-crazed colonists digging up the dead, and one man who killed, "salted" and carved up his pregnant wife for food.

This story was repeated, and luridly embellished, over the years. "Whether she was better roasted, boiled or carbonado'd [barbecued], I know not," the colony's Capt. John Smith wrote in his version of events about the same time. "Such a dish as powdered wife, I never heard of."

Percy reported he had the unnamed killer hanged by his thumbs to extract a confession, then had him executed for the "crewell and unhumane" act.

By March 1610, more than half — by some accounts, 80 percent — of the settlers had died.

Archaeologists have been wary of the Jamestown cannibalism reports.

"That's tricky to prove," said William Kelso, director of archaeology at the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) and Jamestown's lead archaeologist.

Referring to Percy's story, Kelso said: "I think there was a sort of Jeffrey Dahmer-type guy that was there. Somebody that was insane ... somebody that's just totally twisted and they get under stress and they do something like that.

"But I don't think ... [the colonists] all sat around chowing down on each other."

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Nation & World

UPDATE - 10:01 AM
Rebels tighten hold on Libya oil port

UPDATE - 09:29 AM
Reality leads US to temper its tough talk on Libya

UPDATE - 09:38 AM
2 Ark. injection wells may be closed amid quakes

Armed guards save Dutch couple from Somali pirates

Navy to release lewd video investigation findings

More Nation & World headlines...

advertising


Get home delivery today!

Video

Advertising

AP Video

Entertainment | Top Video | World | Offbeat Video | Sci-Tech

Marketplace

Ford Transit air bag nearly 15 feet long; Coffee grounds can make biofuelnew
(Ford) Ford's jumbo air bag The 2015 Ford Transit 15-passenger wagon offers a five-row side-curtain air bag, a first for the auto industry. The air ba...
Post a comment

Advertising