STORIES OF FAITH & Remains of first English missionary discovered #BBCnews

By Jane O’Brien, BBC News, 28 July 2015.

Scientists say they have identified the remains of four men who were among the early leaders of Virginia’s Jamestown settlement.

Jamestown was the first successful British colony that gave rise to modern day America.

The bodies were exhumed in November 2013 in the church where Pocahontas married Captain John Rolfe in 1614.

It took two years of detective work and the latest scientific techniques to identify the badly-preserved bones.

It’s now known the remains belong to important figures who lived in Jamestown between 1607 and 1610, when the colony almost collapsed…

“This was a time of food shortages, Indian attacks and disease,” says James Horn, president of Jamestown Rediscovery. “These men helped established the colony and bring to life the challenges faced by the first settlers.”

“We have two men from the first expedition of 1607 and two men from the second expedition that saved Jamestown and English America in 1610. So it’s highly significant in terms of understanding the success of Jamestown and its survival as an English colony in the New World.”

The bodies were found in the church’s chancel, indicating they were people of great status in the community.

Using physical evidence at the site, analysis of the bones and extensive historical research, scientists narrowed the search down to these four men.

the remains of the Jamestown leaders

The fourth man, Reverend Robert Hunt, was the first Anglican minister in America and arrived with the founding expedition in 1607.

Hunt nearly missed his chance to leave the shores of England. His acute seasickness was considered an ill omen by his companions who wanted to put him off the ship.

Part of his mission was to Anglicise Native Americans by converting them to Christianity, but he died a year later aged about 39.

Forensic anthropologist examine the grave of Rev Robert HuntForensic anthropologist examine the grave of Rev Robert Hunt (Donald E. Hurlbert/Smithsonian)

His grave faced west towards the people he served, which helped researchers identify him as a man of God.

“It tells us something about the importance of religion at Jamestown,” says Hunt.

“The fact that the Church of England was established here is very important because [the religion] was only half a century old at the time.

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