English ships carrying 75 settlers land on Roanoke Island, off the coast of modern-day North Carolina, one year after its selection by Sir Walter Raleigh as the site for an English settlement. This first group of colonists will abandon the settlement after less than a year, but a new party of fifteen will be deposited on the island by Richard Grenville to await another shipment of settlers and supplies.
A group of 121 English settlers led by John White lands at Roanoke. They find no evidence of Grenville's 1586 party. White will return to England for supplies in August. He will be unable to return to Roanoke until 1590, at which time he will find the settlement abandoned. Raleigh will send a party in 1602 to search for survivors, but it will have no success.
Three ships carrying 105 settlers select a site on Chesapeake Bay for a new settlement named Jamestown.
Captain John Smith departs Jamestown with a provisioning party to obtain food from the neighboring Indian villages. During this mission, he will be captured by the Pamunkey chief Powhatan, leading to the legendary incident involving Smith's rescue by the Indian princess Pocahontas.
Sir Thomas Gates is named governor of the Jamestown colony as part of a reform effort which strengthens the power of the governor. He will arrive in Jamestown on 23 May 1610, only to discover that just 60 of the colony's 500 settlers have survived the preceding winter.
English settler John Rolfe begins experimenting with cultivation of tobacco. While the tobacco produced locally by the Indians is too harsh to sell in the European market, Rolfe learns that a milder West Indian strain of tobacco can be grown in the Chesapeake. Jamestown growers will send their first shipment to England in 1617.
Pocahontas is captured by English settlers and held hostage in an attempt to recover settlers taken prisoner by Pocahontas's father, Powhatan.
Pocahontas and Jamestown settler John Rolfe are married.
Pocahontas travels to England with John Rolfe and their son Thomas. She will draw great public interest and even meet the royal family. In 1617, she and her family will set sail to return to America but she will die en route.
About twenty Africans servants are delivered to the colony. These may be the first Africans in Virginia. A 1620 census records 32 Africans in the colony.
Virginia's new governor, George Yeardley, arrives in Jamestown. He will initiate several reforms including the creation of the first representative assembly in North America. Twenty-two delegates or 'burgesses' representing each of the towns or plantations constitute this 'House of Burgesses.'
Pamunkey Indians, disturbed by the rapid growth of the Jamestown colony, attack the English settlement, killing 347 people. Harsh retaliatory raids lead to the deaths of a far greater number of Native Americans.
The Virginia Company's charter is revoked and governance of Jamestown is transferred to the Crown. Virginia becomes Britain's first royal colony in America.
Sir William Berkeley begins his first term as governor of Virginia. He will be turned out of office in 1652, but will be elected governor for a second term in 1660 and then serve until his death in 1677.
Pamunkey chief Opechancanough leads an attack against the Jamestown settlement in a desperate attempt to limit the colony's growth. Five hundred English settlers are killed. Governor William Berkeley will personally lead the Virginia forces that turn back the assault and crush the Indians.
Governor William Berkeley negotiates a treaty with many of the neighboring tribes, including the Pamunkeys, reducing them to tributary status. In addition to paying an annual tribute to the governor, the Indians are severely restricted to lands on the frontier of the English settlement, and their choice of leaders must be approved by Berkeley.
Virginia's population has grown to include 15,000 whites and 300 Africans.
England declares war against the Netherlands, commencing the first in a series of 'Anglo-Dutch Wars' fought until 1684. The wars are triggered by commercial rivalry between the two nations, including Dutch attempts to access Virginia's tobacco trade.
In London, Parliament passes a navigation act requiring that certain goods produced in America, including tobacco, be exported only to England or ones of its colonies. This narrowing of Virginia's commercial choices will further reduce the value of tobacco.
Charles II of England declares war against the Netherlands, beginning the second Anglo-Dutch War.
Dutch warships enter the James River in Virginia and burn six English ships.
Virginia's population has grown to include 48,000 free whites, 6,000 indentured servants, and 2000 African slaves.
English ships attack a Dutch convoy, initiating the Third Anglo-Dutch War.
A party of Doig Indians steals some hogs from English settler Thomas Mathew, claiming he cheated them in an earlier transaction. Mathew kills one of the Indians in response, triggering a chain of retaliatory raids by Indians and settlers.
Nathaniel Bacon requests a commission from Virginia Governor William Berkeley authorizing him to lead an army of settlers against the Chesapeake Indians. Berkeley refuses.
Nathaniel Bacon marches an unauthorized war party into the interior to fight a 'defensive war' against the Indians. In response, Governor Berkeley will denounce Bacon and remove him from his council.
After Nathaniel Bacon kills several Susquehannocks, as well as the friendly Occaneechees that helped capture the Susquehannocks, Governor Berkeley labels Bacon a traitor.
Elected to a seat in the House of Burgesses, Nathaniel Bacon arrives in Jamestown with an armed guard. Governor William Berkeley arrests Bacon and forces a confession from him. Bacon is allowed to leave the town and return to his farm.
Nathaniel Bacon returns to Jamestown with 500 followers and again demands a commission from Governor Berkeley to fight the Indians. Berkeley grants the commission, but revokes it as soon as Bacon leaves the settlement and again declares Bacon a traitor.
After Nathaniel Bacon threatens to march against Governor Berkeley in Jamestown, and the governor is forced to flee the settlement, Bacon increases his strength by securing the support of wealthier planters at the Middle Plantation.
Nathaniel Bacon marches on Jamestown, defeats forces loyal to Governor Berkeley, and burns the settlement.
Nathaniel Bacon dies of dysentery, leading to the collapse of his insurrection.
Governor Berkeley restores order and resumes power as governor. His followers engage in retaliatory raids on the plantations of Bacon's followers.
An English royal commission arrives in Jamestown to investigate the recent insurrection. Despite a royal proclamation of amnesty for the rebels, Governor Berkeley will execute 23 of Bacon's former followers.
William Berkeley sails for England, having been pressured to resign his office.