John Phips Onboard the Tyger, 1621

Two men were brought into Virginia in 1621 to work as surveyors. They were John Phips and William Harris. John Phips is supposed to have arrived on the Tyger, and William Harris on the George. Phips came with another man, according to secondary accounts, named William Morris. William Claiborne received a Virginia land patent for having these men transported.

The George is referred to, on other occasions, as sailing from England to Virginia. A list showing the George also shows the Tyger as having been in operation at least from 1621 to 1623.

Wikipedia includes an article on another ship, the James, with reference to a passenger on that ship in 1622. One of the passengers was Richard English, who was a servant for Thomas Palmer.

The article says that Palmer had arrived “months earlier” on the Tyger. As a result, perhaps he was on the same voyage as Phips. Another page refers to Palmer’s voyage in similar terms. One page refers to Palmer arriving in November 1621 on the Tyger.

An online passenger list refers to a ship of that same name in 1771, but this surely was a different ship. The National Park Service refers to a ship called the Tyger built in the 1540s and rebuilt in 1570, but that would also seem to have surely been a different ship.

One source refers to the Tyger as one of the queen’s ships which she specifically designated for Virginia settlement, however, and another source refers to the Tyger as in the queen’s fleet, used in sailing to Plymouth in 1585 and then later to build a fort at Roanoke, so perhaps this was the same ship.

A genealogist’s page refers to a certain Peter Porter who came to America “in 1621-1622” on the Tyger. That page says that the ship departed from England in September of 1621 along with the Warwick, but that the two ships became separated.

After that occurred, the Tyger, is says, was captured by the Turks. The ship supposedly only escaped after it had lost all of its rigging. Was John Phips on that voyage? A 2003 book quotes from a 1622 sermon about Virginia settlement. The speaker offered thanks to God that the Tyger had made it to Virginia, in spite of having been captured by “Turkish men of war.” God had, according to the speaker, “ransomed her out of their hands.”

The sermon is more fully reported in a book published in 1622, titled Virginia’s God Be Thanked, or a Sermon of Thanksgiving for the Happie Successe of the Assayres in Virginia this Last Yeare. This consists of the text of the sermon, as preached by Patrick Copland. Part of what Copland, speaking to investors in London, had to say was that

When God brought some of the ships of your former fleetes to Virginia in safty [safety]; here Gods providence was seen & felt privately by some, and this was a deliverance, written (as it were) in quarto on a lesser paper & letter. But now, when God brought all of your 9 ships, and al [all] your people in [then?] in health & safety to Virginia: Yea and that ship Tyger of yours, which had fallen into the hands of the Turkish men of war, through tempest and contrary windes, she not being able to beare sayle [sail], and by that meanes droven out of her course some hundreds of miles; for otherwise of it selfe the passage from England to Virginia, is out of the Walke of Turkes, and cleere and safe from all Pyrates, who commonly lurke neere Ilands [islands], and head-lands, and not in the maine Ocean. When this your Tyger had falne [fallen?], by reason of this storme, and some indiscretion of her Master and people, who taking the Turkes to have beene Flemmings, bound for Holland or England, bore up the helme to speake with them: for they needed not if they had lifted to have come neere the Turkes, but have proceeded safely on their voyage) [open parenthesis missing] into the hands of those mercilesse Turkes, who had taken from them most of their victuals, and all of their serviceable sayles [sails], tackling and anchors, and had not so much as left them an houre-glasse or compasse to steere their course, thereby utterly disabling them from going from them, and proceeding on their voyage. When (I say) God had ransomed her out [of] their hands, as the Prophet speaketh, by another Sayle which they espyed, and brought her likewise safely to Virginia with all her people, two English boyes onely [only] excepted, for which the Turkes gave them two others, a French youth and an Irish. Was not here the presence of God printed, as it were, in Folio on Royall Crowne Paper and Capitall Letters, that, as Habacucke [the Biblical book of Habakkuk] sayth, They that runne and ride pst may reade it. O then how great cause have you and they, to confesse before the Lord his loving kindnesse, and his wonderfull workes before the sonnes of men?

Secondary sources referring to Claiborne’s transportation of Phips and Harris to America note that the two surveyors were brought to Virginia by the Virginia Company. A genealogist’s online post, citing “the Jamestown Record of the London Company,” refers to the London Company perceiving the need for the importation of potential brides in Virginia.

Accordingly, according to that page, the Tyger arrived in James City (Jamestown) in November 1621 from England. Onboard were supposedly 50 women considered eligible for marriage. (An earlier published account, however, cites only 38 women, but notes that 12 had been sent earlier on the Marmaduke.) They were brought to Virginia after the London Company determined that their presence would “lifte ye morale” of the male settlers.

One of the women who lifted “ye morale” must have been the wife of Richard Atkins. She arrived in 1621 on the Tyger, at her own charge, according to a published account.

Despite the profuse thankfulness in the sermon, a major massacre occurred a bit later. Various accounts speak as though the English settlers were themselves at least partly to blame. One book says that according to the journal of the Tyger, when a silver cup turned up missing and a local chief didn’t return it, English settlers burned an Indian village in retaliation.

In similar terms, another genealogist’s page quotes from the well known book Cavaliers & Pioneers as referring to the Tyger. That quote refers to a land patent granted for transporting four servants who came “from the Sumer Island in the Tyger in 1621.”

That source says that the land described in the grant was surveyed by William “Clayborne.” This suggests that the Claiborne who received a patent for bringing Phips and Harris as surveyors must have, himself, been a surveyor, or at least became one.

We’ve referred to the Phillips family of Halifax County, Virginia, with a number of reasons to consider that they could have been Phipps or Fips or Phripp, etc. One of those reasons was that the John Phillips discussed there was related to the Swann family which was closely connected with the Harris family in Surry County – the same area where the surveyor Harris ended up, and the Swann family was also closely connected with the Claiborne family.

One web page, citing Hotten, lists people associated with the Tyger in voyages in 1621, 1622, and 1623. The Virtual Jamestown site shows various individuals who came to James City/Jamestown on the Tyger or Tiger. A list is generated by choosing the ship name and then choosing “initiate search.”

One name which turns up is that of “Peeter” Porter, mentioned above. He arrived in 1621 on the “Tiger,” and then shows up in 1624/5 in the militia muster roll of Capt. William Epes (that name again). Other individuals (and Peeter Porter again) show up as having arrived on the Tyger in 1621, ’22, or ’23.

The National Archives refers to the Tyger as out of London according to a 1689 record. The ship was loaded with 34 guns and weighed 350 tons, with a crew of 80. An admiralty case refers to the Tyger, if it was the same ship, being lost in 1744, while traveling from London to Newfoundland, from there to New England, and from there either directly back to London, “or else to Jamaica and thence to London.”


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