A journey to Georgia
Today Gravesend is perhaps best known as the final
resting place of Pocahontus and as the site of the London River
House, the port authority for the city of London. In 1732
Gravesend, 15 miles east of London on the Thames River, was one
of several unrelated port cities that served the capital of England.
It was from Gravesend that 114 men, women and children along with
James Oglethorpe, pastor Henry Herbert, Doctor William Cox, Captain
John Thomas and a crew of 20 set sail on Friday, November
17, 1732 for the new colony of Georgia.
They would make one stop between England and Georgia: at the island
of Madeira, where the ship would load 5 tons of wine for the journey
Before leaving a bureaucratic hierarchy was established.
Peter Gordon, who was put at the head of the militia, was probably
the highest ranking official of the new colony, but it was James
Oglethorpe who was in charge. Today the state of Georgia refers
to him as "resident trustee," but he had no title, and no official
power. He joined the colonists to represent the best interests of
the trustees in their absense.
Traveling from England to the colonies was not an
easy task, even in 1732. The two months
it took the Pilgrims to travel from England to Cape Cod had not
been improved very much in spite of 112 years. Neither had the accommodations.
The Ann, a 200-ton frigate, had barely enough room for colonists;
they slept as a group, occasionally allowed privacy with a canvas
tarp. During the voyage they dined on mutton and broth, dringking
wine and occassionally watered-down rum (called punch).
After a voyage of 61 days the group arrived in Charles
Town, South Carolina, (now Charleston), where Oglethorpe disembarked
and met with Robert Johnson, Royal Governor of the state. It was
an important meeting. Johnson wanted the colony as a buffer between
South Carolina and the Spanish, but more importantly, as protection
from the Yemassee Creek that attacked the Carolina setters in 1715.
The arrangement made prior to Oglethorpe's arrival was unusual.
Although he held no power over the colony of Georgia, Johnson would
command the troops.
Oglethorpe made off with Colonel William Bull of
Charleston and members of his recently formed Georgia Guard, called
the Tythings, to look for a site while the colonists finally disembarked
at Port Royal. After securing a site and leaving the guard to further
prepare the area, Oglethorpe returned and on Tuesday, January
30, 116 colonists
set sail in a sloop and four smaller boats for the Savannah River
inlet. They did not get very far before a storm forced them to put
The next day they again put out to sea and on February
1, 1733, (February 12, 1733, New Style)
they landed at what is today known as Savannah, walking up a flight
of wooden steps and onto a cleared rise that afforded an excellent
view of the surrounding area including the Yamacraw (Creek) village
a short distance away. This was the start of the colony of Georgia.