Mistress Alice Proctor: Fighting Woman of Henrico, 1619-1622
Master John Proctor came to Virginia via the shipwreck of Sea Venture at Bermuda, but eventually established himself in Virginia, 1610-1619 as an “Ancient Planter.” He acquired more than 100 acres of granted land at the Coxsondale and Henrico communities. After he erected his plantation, he went home to conduct more business and in doing so, was married. He sent his wife and her servant ahead to manage the plantation sometime after 1619.
Mistress Alice Proctor, along with her servants, led the defense of her family’s property during the March 22, 1622 Powhatan Indian military offensive. As noted in Captain John Smith’s history of Virginia, she defended the plantation for three weeks.
When the militia came by order of Governor Wyatt, she was ordered to leave the plantation and remove back towards Jamestown, or the militia would set the house on fire with her in it.
She is perhaps the first woman in colonial Virginia history to successfully lead a defense of property.
Editor’s note: Want to learn how the 2019 Commemoration will showcase the stories of Virginia’s women and their tenacity and impact on society? Visit the TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia exhibition located at the Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg.