Here is the bio of the real Pocahontas, via the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian, following the 400th anniversary in 2017 of her death:
She was about 22 years old when she died, on March 21, 1617, in London, where Pocahontas spent the last nine months of her life, and was known there as Lady Rebecca.
Born Amonute, Pocahontas was the daughter of the leader of the powerful Powhatan Confederacy. The confederacy dominated the coastal mid-Atlantic region when, in 1607, English colonists established James Fort, a for-profit colony, along the Chesapeake Bay.
Pocahontas, a child at the time, often accompanied her father’s men to the fort, signaling that their mission was peaceful. Amazingly or not, the English arrived poorly equipped, lacked provisions, and were almost entirely dependent on the Powhatan for food. Pocahontas was among those who brought food to the fort.
Relations between the English and Powhatan, however, were always fraught. And in 1613 Pocahontas, then about 18 years old, was abducted by the English and held hostage for more than a year. The Christian theologian Alexander Whitaker began to instruct Pocahontas, in both English and in the Anglican religion.
While captive, Pocahontas met the colonist John Rolfe, who—according to various English accounts, including his own—fell in love with her. Pocahontas agreed to marry Rolfe and, shortly before her marriage, received a Christian baptism.
It was Rolfe who developed the strain of tobacco that would make the colony prosperous, enrich its investors and Britain, and eventually lead to the collapse of the Powhatan Confederacy.
In 1616 Pocahontas traveled to London with Rolfe and their infant son, Thomas.
Her trip was sponsored by the James Fort investors.
Famously, Pocahontas, accompanied by an entourage of high-standing Powhatan, was celebrated throughout London. She was received twice in the Court of King James, to be presented to the king and to attend a Twelfth Night masque.
Pocahontas never returned home. She died just before the start of her return voyage and was buried in Gravesend, an ancient town on the banks of the Thames Estuary.
Buried in Britain
That church was destroyed by fire in 1727, and Pocahontas is now buried at an unknown location somewhere on the grounds surrounding the current St. George’s Church.
The bronze Pocahontas sculpture outside St. George’s, a copy of the 1923 statue at James Fort, was presented to the church by the people of Virginia on the 350th anniversary of Pocahontas’s death.
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About the engraving displayed (courtesy of the Smithsonian)
The famous engraving of Pocahontas made by Simon van de Passe (1595–1647) mirrors the Renold Elstrack (1570–1625 or after) engraving of Queen Elizabeth—and the 31 other engravings of British sovereigns published in 1618 in “Baziliologia: A Booke of Kings.”
(Left: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Right: National Portrait Gallery, London)