Archer’s parents are known to have been Catholic – which became illegal in England.
Conditions only grew worse under the rule of James I, whose 1605 act to “prevent and avoid dangers which may grow by Popish recusants” took away trial and inheritance rights in addition to forbidding Catholics from practicing law or medicine or working in a pharmacy, the military or civil service.
But a new discovery at Jamestown, Virginia, by researchers from the Smithsonian and the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation has reintroduced four key leaders-and a mystery-into the history of America’s first town.
Similarly, researchers suspected that another grave belonged to Capt. Gabriel Archer, because it included a coffin and the decayed remnants of a ceremonial staff. Archer was also buried with a silver reliquary containing bones and a small vessel that might have held holy water, which could indicate that he was secretly Catholic while living in a colony that tried to spread the Anglican faith to local tribes.
“But not what you should be finding at Protestant Jamestown”. “It was oh, religion was a big deal here, and that’s often overlooked”.
Catholic relics have been found in the Jamestown archaeological site before, but the placement of this box seems particularly symbolic, the historians said.
“It was a real kind of ah-ha moment for a lot of us”, he said. “Most people would come and go and die at Jamestown, and nobody would write a word about them”.
But the Church of England had a strong role in the creation of an English America with the Protestant church acting as a bulwark against Spain’s Catholic colonies to the south, Horn said.
Archaeologists will continue searching the church site and expect to eventually find the burial of Sir Thomas West, the early governor of Virginia who led a rescue mission to save Jamestown when the colony was collapsing, Horn said. The sash, still inside a block of dirt, was placed in a computed tomography (CT) scanner, which revealed a silk cloth decorated with silver fringe. Historic documents and artifacts found at the site provide other clues. Researchers first want to learn more about those related to Lord De La Warr. The site also plans to memorialize the men and will keep their bones in an accessible place for preservation and future study.
The team is more than 90 percent certain of the colonists’ identities, Kelso said. Then they used chemical tests, genealogical records, a digital analysis of bones and artefacts and contextual clues from the four graves to make the final identifications.
Smithsonian anthropologist Owsley and his team have worked closely with Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists since 1996, examining skeletal remains in an effort to better understand the lives of the first colonists in the Chesapeake. All of the men were leaders of the nascent colony, and suffered through the rough time know as the “starving time”.
An accurate and measurable record of these burials as they lay in the ground not only preserves critical information for research, but also tells the story of North American history in a way never before possible.