Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 113 / Number 3
George Percy's "Trewe Relacyon": A Primary Source for the Jamestown Settlement
- Mark Nicholls, pp. 212–75
George Percy's "Trewe Relacyon" covers three crucial years in the early history of the Jamestown settlement and offers us a very different view of events familiar to all readers of Capt. John Smith's writings on the history of Virginia. The youngest brother of the ninth earl of Northumberland, one of the most important and wealthy noblemen in England, Percy was by no means well disposed towards the "low-born" Smith, and in this work he suggests, pointedly, that Smith's interpretation of events is consistently at odds with the political and social realities of life in Jamestown during this particularly grim, turbulent, and stressful period in the story of the infant colony. The present edition of Percy's "Trewe Relacyon" is the first to offer a detailed analysis of the work, which survives in a unique contemporary copy at the Free Library in Philadelphia. It takes a fresh and thorough look at Percy's life—about which many myths have grown over the years—and also examines his motives for writing, his priorities as an author, and the ways in which the "Trewe Relacyon" reflects his view of the extraordinary and novel world in which he lived.