A Short Biography Captain Christopher Newport


Before sailing to Jamestown, Captain Christopher Newport was an English privateer raiding and capturing Spanish ships in the West Indies from 1587-1603. (Privateer = the commander and crew of a privately owned ship authorized by a government to attack and capture enemy vessels in order to sell the cargo [the prize] of the captured ship for profit.) Newport made 10 voyages to the West Indies, which are located in the Caribbean Sea. On one of these voyages, near Cuba, Newport attacked a Spanish ship and during hand-to-hand fighting had his right arm cut off. Despite losing an arm, Newport became one of the most feared English privateers of the Spanish.

Once war with Spain ended in 1603, Captain Newport made two peaceful trips to the West Indies for trade, and on the island of Hispaniola [today Haiti and the Dominican Republic] he captured two young crocodiles and a wild boar, which he gave his new king, James I.

Because Captain Newport had made so many voyages to the West Indies from England by way of the Canary Islands (and it is believed by some historians he explored the Virginia coast in 1604 or 1605), he was selected to command the three ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, which landed at Jamestown in May 1607.

Source: Haile, Edward White, ed. 1998. Jamestown narratives: Eyewitness Accounts of the Virginia Colony, The First Decade, 1607-1617, Virginia.

 

Last updated: April 5, 2015

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