Edward Maria Wingfield (1550-1631) was a soldier, Member of Parliament (1593), and English colonist at Jamestown, Virginia. Wingfield was one of the early and prime movers and organizers in 1602-1603 in the Virginia Venture moving. He was elected president of the venture, but a series of misfortunes led to his removal. After clearing his reputation, he continued to be active in the Virginia Venture and the Virginia Company.
Edward Wingfield in A Different Flesh
Edward Wingfield's encounter with the native creatures of North America in 1610 became the stuff of legends.
Upon the establishment of Jamestown, Virginia, the colonists discovered that the region was the habitat of sims. While the Spanish had encountered sims during their explorations of South America, and had even brought sims back to Europe, the creatures were still an unknown quantity. Moreover, the sims initially perceived their more evolved cousins as possible prey. In early encounters, many colonists were killed, including Wingfield's friend, Captain John Smith, in 1607.
Despite the threat of the sims, and the ongoing battle to simply feed itself (the colonists were unfamiliar with native fauna, so grains had to be shipped from England) Jamestown managed to survive. Wingfield became an important figure in Jamestown as a hunter. When women were brought to the colony in 1609, Wingfield took a wife, Anne. The two had a daughter, Joanna, in 1610.
Wingfield's stance on the sims was uncertain through his first years at Jamestown. Like many Europeans, he believed them to be little better than animals, athough he respected the threat they posed. However, it wasn't until 1610 that Wingfield actually developed sympathy for the creatures. In that year, a group of sims kidnapped his infant daughter.
The sims came in the night. Both Wingfields fought the intruders, but were quickly overpowered. The next morning, Wingfield, his fellow hunter Henry Dale, soldier Allan Cooper, and woodsman Caleb Lucas set off after the child. After some days, they discovered the sims who had taken Joanna. To the surprise of the four men, the sims had taken the child, essentially, for study. They laid the baby next to one of their infants, and compared and contrasted between the two.
Wingfield, realizing the sims' benign intent, walked into the camp, and through a series of gestures, secured Joanna. No sooner had he left the camp and returned to his companions than Henry Dale, to the horror of the other men, fired on the sims. The sims retaliated, killing Cooper. Dale, realizing the foolishness of his actions, stood his ground, allowing the Wingfields and Lucas to escape.
Wingfield, Joanna, and Lucas made it back to Jamestown. Wingfield, despite this adventure, concluded that killing the sims would be an injustice.
Joanna grew up to become the great-grandmother of Thomas Kenton, a scout who had a memorable encounter with wild sims in 1691.
|Colonial Governor of Virginia