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Certaine directions for the sending of Men, Comodities & Cattle to Virginia

 Unprocessed Material — Flat_Box: ViU2023-0079_001
Identifier: ViU-2023-0079

Content Description

This collection contains an unpublished manuscript guide for early settlers in Virginia ascribed to the Virginia Company of London. It is three bifolia (10 pages and a final blank leaf with the outer half torn away) written in brown ink in a secretary hand. Provides a detailed guide to the preparations for travel, instructions for a healthy life while on the journey, and information on every aspect of colonial life and the opportunities for successfully settling and flourishing in Virginia. The first section provides detailed insights into life onboard ship. The directions seek to address the issue of overcrowded and unsanitary ships, and well as the rapid depletion of resources after the arrival of ships to America. Written in 1622, the directions echo many of the resource management principles created by the Virginia Company of London in 1620. Suggestions for responsible management ranged from boiling sassafras with water to sanitize it, to preventing over-eating by new arrivals to the settlement. The Virginia Company is not named directly in the manuscript, but "the Company" is routinely mentioned. "You," "you[r] ships", "you[r] cattle", "you[r] passengers is also mentioned several times, suggesting the Virginia Company's supervisory role in the formation of permanent settlements, juxtaposed from their direct participation in the decades prior. Other sections of the manuscript discuss the most optimal time to move men and cattle, the planting of apple and pear trees, the cultivation and trade of "good tobacco", and daily eating allowance based on age and gender. The manuscript covers every aspect of day-to-day life, from the provision of food, the prevention of sickness, the work skills and the agricultural and trade goods most in demand in the colony, and the position of women in society. Also included is a complete transcript of the document provided by Maggs Bros. Ltd.

Acquisition Type



Purchased from Maggs Brothers, Limited, 23 March 2023. Formerly part of a collection of independent scribal tracts, once lightly stitched together ( and perhaps loosely bound) on different paper stocks, of which several were apparently written by the same hand. The collection was broken up and partly dispersed at an unknown date. Several, including the present, were sold at Forum Auctions on July 14, 2022 and were said to have been "purchased at a provincial auction earlier this year, apparently consigned there from a house in Berkshire.

Language of Description


Script of Description


Restrictions Apply



  • Creation: c. late Spring/ Early summer 1622



0.44 Cubic Feet (One small oversize flat box)

Language of Materials



10 pages (3 bifolia) and 1 spiralbound transcript of the text