The first giant step in recovering the African past of the Melungeons was
made when the historian Engel Sluiter located Spanish records of the Atlantic
passages of some of the Angolans captured in the 1618-20 Portuguese campaign
and loaded aboard ship in Luanda on the African coast. His research was
published in the 1997 issue of William & Mary Quarterly. Sluiter was also
able to document the first leg of the voyage of the "20 and Odd Negroes"
taken from a Portuguese slver in the West Indies by two privateers, before
their re-appearance in Virginia in August 1619. Now, new light offers more
details on the second leg of the passage which began after the privateers
engaged the Portuguese slave ship and ended at their arrival in Jamestown.

The Portuguese-Spanish slave traffic from Angola to Central and South America
at this time was managed by a general contractor called an asentista. The
asentista won the exclusive commission as the highest bidder and only he
could ship African slaves. The asentista agreed to pay a set amount annually
to the Spanish king. A Lisbon banker, Antonio Fernandes Delvas, held the
asentista contract from 1615-1622 according to records translated by Sluiter.
For the sole right to export slaves, Delvas paid the Spanish crown the sum of
115,000 ducats annually. He was permitted to ship not more than 5,000 but not
less than 3,500 African captives per year, and only to two ports; Vera Cruz
and Cartagena.

Records from the Vera Cruz treasury in Mexico for the fiscal year June
18,1619 to June 21, 1620 show he amount of taxes paid on incoming Africns.
Sluiter writes:

   "During that year, six slavers arrived at Vera Cruz. All had loaded their
human cargoes       at Sao Paulo de Loanda, the capital of Portuguese,
Angola. Out of some 2,000 blacks they had taken aboard in AFrica, 1,161 were
delivered alive in Vera Cruz. The losses were caused not only by the rigors
of the middle passage, but also by shipwreck and, in one, by corsair attack."

This is the account from Spanish records, as translatedby Sluiter, of the
single slave ship attacked by privateers that fiscal year as it sailed from
Angola to Mexico.

   "Enter on the credit side the receipt of 8,657,875 pesos paid by Manuel
Mendes de Acunha, masterof the ship Sao Joao Bautista on 147 slave pieces
brought by him into the said port on August 30, 1619 aboard the frigate Santa
Ana, master Rodrigo Escobar. On the voyage inbound, Mendes de Acunha was
robbed at sea off the coast of Campeche by English corsairs. Out of 350
slaves, large and small, he loaded in said Loanda [200 under a license issued
to him in Sevillaand the rest to be declared later], the English corsairs
left him with only 147, including 24 slave boys he was forced to sell in
Jamaica, where he had to refresh, for he had many sick aboard and many had
already died."

Those Africans, probably no more than 150-200, taken from the Bautista by
English corsairs, were among the thousands captured in the Portuguese-Ndongo
war of 1618-1619 described in an earlier chapter by Thornton. Sluiter points
out that the Bautista...

"...was the only slave ship among the 36 named as arriving at Vera Cruz
during the fiscal years 1618-1619 through 1621-22 to be attacked inbound from
Angola, by corsairs."

A few weeks after the attack on the Bautista, the first of the two corsairs,
a Dutch man-o-war, appeared off Point Comfort near Jamestown, Virginia with
African slaves to trade for grain. There appears to be a conflict between the
account of the ship's nationality as told by the Spanish and the account
given by Virginians. If, according to the Spaniards, "English" corsairs
attacked the Bautista, then why was one of the two privateers later described
by Jamestown settlers as a "Dutch" and a "Flushing" man-o-war? Who was her
mysterious captain "Jope" and what connection did he have with the second
corsair which followed four days behind his arrival in Virginia?

Now, from recently collected evidence, the apparent discrepancies can be
better explained in context with questionable free-booting activities
centering in the Virginia colony in 1619.


In 1624, Captain John Smith, who had been so instrumental in settling the
colony, wrote in his "General History of Virginia" a description of the first
Africans arriving in 1619.

"About the last of August came in a dutch man o warre that sold us twenty

However, the famous Captain Smith, penning his memoirs near the end of his
adventurous career, had not himself witnessed the arrival of the privateer.
He was not in Virginia at the time. Smith was quoting a letter written to
Virginia Company treasurer Sir Edwin Sandys by Virginia tobacco planter John
Rolfe, widowed husband of Pocahontas. Rolfe personally saw the arrival of the
ship and wrote:

"About the latter end of August, a Dutch man of Warr of the burden of 160
tons arrived at Point Comfort, the Comandor's name was Capt. Jope, his Pilot
for the West Indies one Mr. Marmaduke and Englishman. They mett with the
Treasurer in the West Indies and determined to hold consort shipp
hetherward,but in their passage lostone the other. he brought not anything
but 20 and odd Negroes, which the Governor and Cape Merchant bought for
victualle [whereof he was in greate need as he pretended] a the best and
easyest rate they could. He hadd a lardge and ample Comyssion from his
Excellency to range and to take purchase in the West Indies."

The first part of Rolfe's letter appears to simply describe the arrival of a
ship with Africans; Angolans who, we now know from Sluiter and Thornton, were
captured in the Portuguese campaign against the Ndongo in 1618-1619 and taken
by privateers from the slaver 'Bautista' in July of 1619. After trading his
captives, Capt Jope had remained some idle weeks from August through
September at anchor in the Chesapeake as would be expected of a ship
restocking after an arduous voyage; a voyage which had included confrontation
with at least one mercant vessel. However, the second part of Rolfe's letter
related an atypical event when describing the arrival a few days after Jope,
of the Treasurer, the second consort in the capture of the Bautista's slaves.

"...Three or 4 days after (Jope) the Treasurer arrived. At his arrivall he
sent word presently to the Governor to know his pleasure, who wrote to him,
and did request myself, Leiftenante Peace and Mr. Ewens to goe downe to him,
to desyre him to come up to James City. But before we gott downe he hadd sett
saile and was gone out of the Bay. The occasion hereof happened by the
unfriendly dealing of the inhabitants of Keqnoughton, for he was in greate
want of victualle, wherewith they would not relieve him nor his Company upon
any termes." [From the "Record of the Virginia Company of London" Susan Myra
Kinsbury, editor.]

The "Dutch" man-o-war, captained by Jope had fully reprovisioned in Virginia
at his leisure while his consort partner, the English man-o-war Tresurer, had
suddenly bolted from the English colonial port. What promped the Treasurer to
sail off to Bermuda so suddenly after being refused supplies in Virginia?
In addition to Rolfe's manuscript we have the letter from the Secretary of
State of the Virginia colony, John Pory, who on September 30, 1619, wrote
from Jamestown to Sir Dudley Carleton, English envoy to the Hague. Pory sent
his letter by Jope's English pilot, Marmaduke Rayner. The date of the letter
proves the Dutch ship of Captain Jope spent about a month at Jamestown. Pory
was also an eyewitness to the first Africans arriving in Virginia and also to
the arrival of the Treasurer four days later.

"Having met with so fitt a messenger as this man of warre of Flushing, I
could not impart with your lordship...these poore fruites of our labours
here...The occasion of this ship's coming hither was an accidental
consortship in the West Indies with the Treasurer, an English man of warre
also licensed by a Commission from the Duke of Savoy to take Spaniards as
lawfull prize. This ship, the Treasurer, went out of England in Aprill was
twelve moneth, about a moneth, I think before an peace was concluded between
the king of Spaine and that prince. Hither shee came to Captain Argall, then
the governour of this Colony, being parte-owner of her. Hee more for love of
gaine, the root of all evill, than for any true love he bore to this
Plantation, vicualled and manned her anew, and sent her with the same
Commission to raunge the Indies."

In this letter we learn that the Treasurer had visited Jamestown twice in
1619; first while Samuel Argall was governor, and secondly after Argall had
been removed from office. Argall's captain on the Treasurer was Daniel
Elfrith. After that first Virginia call, the Treasurer sailed to the West
Indies where she accidently met the "Dutch" man-o-war and consorted in taking
the Bautista in July 1619. During this consortship at sea, Secretary Pory,
part of the new Yeardley administration replacing Argall, had arrived in
Virginia from England before the "Treasurer" returned the second time that
year in August, loaded with the Angolans and trailing Jope by four days.

Pory wrote a scathing condemnation of former governor Argall, the Treasurer's
part-owner, while in the same letter praising the "Flushing" man-o-war which
had consorted with that same 'Treasurer' in the Bautista capture. What was
behind the hostility against Argall? Did the unexpected absence of Argall
from Virginia in August 1619 have anything to do with the abrupt departure
from Jamestown of the 'Treasurer'? While Argall was in Virginia, the
'Treasurer' was welcomed. But with a new governor installed in Jamestown, the
Treasurer, unlike the Dutch ship, was refused provision. Why?

When we study Pory's complaint against Argall, we begin to catch glimpses of
in-house Virginia Company politics and the infighting which which would
eventually dissolve the company financing the Virginia colony, thereby place
the young settlement under the direct rule of the English crown. The capture
of the Portuguese slaver 'Bautista' and the changed destination of her
Angolan captives to Virginia were the two most fractious events responsible
for the fall of the company and for the redirection of the future of the
Virginia colony.


Samuel Argall's partners in the man-o-war 'Treasurer' included Lord Rich.
Rich was one of the more famous and influential investors in the Virginia
Company. During this period, James, king of England, had made a peace treaty
with Catholic Spain. Rich, a Puritan and anti-Catholic, had secretly gone
behind the back of his king to bribe a marque from the Italian duke of Savoy,
then in a tiff with Spain, to take Spanish and Portuguese ships in the West
Indies. Rich's affiliations did not endear him to James.

By 1619, Rich, Governor Argall and a clique within the Virginia Company had
turned the colony into a privateer's haven where goods and chattel from
captured Spanish-Portuguese prizes could be traded for tobacco and
provisions. The miserly policy of the Company had been to sell off moldy,
stale and rancid supplies to the Virginia settlers at high prices. The
Virginians were hungry to purchase quality goods, legal or not. Rich was
undercutting profits of his own company by supplying quality contraband
directly to the colony.

It was an extremely risky scheme which promised trouble on several fronts for
the colony and the company. First, should it be discovered that the colony
was hosting the free-booting operation of stolen Spanish goods, James would
yank their charter. Second, should the Spanish discover Virginia providing
hospitality to privateers preying on their ships, the vulnerable colony could
awaken one morning staring down the muzzles of a fleet of hostile Iberian
cannon. The protective arms of England were far away.

A further complication: Lord Rich's partnership in the 'Treasurer' directly
tied the Virginia Company of London to unsanctioned privateering against the
Spanish and Portuguese. But company stockholders could not simply shut down
the operation by reporting Lord Rich. His high-profile would lead to a
scandal if publicly exposed and that again would imperil the Company's
charter of Virginia.

Argall had been used as governor of Virginia by the Rich group, to oversee
the privateering operation; to stock and man the privateers and to protect
the scheme from discovery. Virginia company treasurer George Sandys
represented the faction who wanted company-connected attacks on Spanish
shipping to end before Spain complained to the English crown. Also fearful
for company and colony, were Rolfe and Pory. Sandys had already moved by May
1619 to curtail the scheme by engineering an overturn of Argall's nomination
in favor of George Yeardley for governor. But Lord Rich sent a fast ship to
spirit Argall away before Sandys' new officers could arrive in Virginia to
arrest him. Then, just when it seemed the problem had been taken care of, the
two privateers appeared at Point Comfort, fresh from the Bautista attack and
loaded down with more contraband; the Angolan prisoners. The purpose of
Rolfe's notation of the arrivals of the two ships in August 1619 alerted
Sandys that the privateering scheme still operated in Virginia.

Refused provisions and learning Argall had been replaced, the Treasurer
turned immediately and set sail for Bermuda, apparently before she could
trade her share of the Portuguese Africans. Elfrith made a smart decision.
Since Rich's involvement in the scheme would have collapsed the Company,
Sandys' solution was to name only Argall and Elfrith as the chief
conspirators. Rich's name was blocked off of the indictment even though he
was the central ringleader.

Daniel Elfrith and the crew of the Treasurer had another problem in August
1619. Apparently his commission from Savoy had been voided by a peace treaty,
according to Pory's letter, before the Treasurer had left Virginia the first
time to take the Bautista. Elfrith could possibly have been jailed for piracy
by the new and hostile administration. His protector, Samuel Argall, was
nowhere in sight.

However, that same hostile administration for some reason posed no threat to
Captain Jope and his Dutch ship who enjoyed the full hospitality of the
Virginians. Jope even delivered the tattle-tale letter from Pory denouncing
Jope's former consort partner, to an officer of the English crown. Why didn't
the Dutch ship run for cover like the Treasurer in August 1619? The answer is
that Jope was not the same threat to the Virginia Company as was Daniel
Elfrith and the Treasurer. Elfrith and his crew were in the employ of Rich
who, highly prominent in the company, could destroy it. Jope on the other
hand, was a free-lance privateer with no ties to Rich, Argall or the company
and who, if he swung from the gallows, would swing alone.

And a year later Jope would be implicated, when Argall and Elfrith, facing
accusations over the Bautista incident, set him up as the culprit in the


Major Hugh F.Jope, USAF [ret.] of Haverhill, Massachusetts, a veteran of
WWII, crash-landed in the Philippines in enemy territory in 1945. He was
captured and became a prisoner-of-war, not once but twice. Major Jope, who
comes from a long line of Jope mariners is also a descendant, 13 times
removed, of John Colyn Jope of Cornwall, England. John Colyn Jope was the
captain who brought the first Africans to Virginia in August of 1619. Major
Jope has graciously shared his family history with me, giving us as well, the
likely name of the Dutch man-o-war which, with the "Treasurer" captured the
Portuguese "Bautista" in July of 1619.

The ship was called the "WHITE LION". This was not the Dutch "Witte Leeuw"
which burned and sank in 1613 with a load of china near St. Helena. The Jope
"White Lion" was built, ironically, in the Villa Franca shipyard near Lisbon,
Portugal in 1570. She was originally located with the Spanish equivalent of
"White Lion" though probably christened by the Portuguese translation "Leao
Branca". Her future captain, John Colyn Jope, was born circa 1580 in
Merifield, Cornwall, England. His parents were John and Katherine (Trenough)
Jope of Stoke Clymsland. He was a citizen of England who would one day sail
from Cornwall and from Vlissingen (Flushing) in the Netherlands.

The White Lion, built with the Pelicano, sailed under the Portuguese marque
for a year. Both were seized by the Spanish in 1571 for war against England
and her allies. Sir Francis Drake captured the Pelicano in 1572 and called
her the "Pelican". In 1579, the Flemish Second Squadron captured the White
Lion, sailing then under the Spanish name of "Leona Blanca". They renamed her
"Witte Leeuw" (White Lion). After William of Orange died, the Sea Beggars in
1584 sold her to Admiral Howard (a devout Calvinist) who resold her to Drake,
his friend. Drake hired James Erizo (or Oriso and Erissey) to captain her
when in 1585 he and Howard got a subtle message from the queen that
privateers were at liberty to attack Spanish shipping.

Erizo, desiring to purchase the White Lion, got a loan financed from Drake.
From "Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries".

"Sir Francis Drake and Captain James Erisey. On the 6th September, 1585, for
220 pounds, James Erysye of Erysye esquire, mortgaged his manor of Pensugnans
in the parishes of Guynop and Key to Sir Francis Drake of Buckland in the
Countie of Devon, Knight."

However, Erizo (Erisey) defaulted on the loan and lost the ship, though Drake
kept him on as her commander. Major Hugh Jope writes:

"The White Lion with Erizo in command made a good showing of itself during
the years 1587-88, going full force in the war with the Armada. The "White
Lion" usually travelled with one of Drake's squadrons. The Queen's Navy and
the Privateers cooperated with each other during this common effort."

Drake's will, probated a year after his death, bequeathed the White Lion back
to Erizo who continued to prey on galleons until 1609, when, according to
Maj.Jope, "Erizo sold the White Lion to his Calvinist minister, the Reverend
John Colyn Jope of Cornwall. Captain Jope had to overhaul the battered ship;
a project which took him ten years. Then, sailing out of Vlissingen one
fateful day in July 1619, he joined consort with the "Treasurer" in the West
Indies to take the Portuguese merchant-slaver Sao Joao Bautista, out of
Luanda, Angola.


Many sources have claimed that Captain Jope (or Jupe, Chope, Choppe etc as he
is also identified) provided the basic model for the main character in
Wagner's opera, "Der Fliegende Hollander". It is commonly accepted that
Wagner found his "Flying Dutchman" in a Heinrich Heine publication. Hansel
Voorhees published "Flemish Archives of Classical Music" in 1872.

"Wagner has taken his obvious anti-semitism to new levels in Der Fliegende
Hollander which he copied from Heine's "Memoirs of Herr Von Schnabelwopsky".
He assigned satanic symbolism to the lead role of his opera and imposed a
curse which condemned him to sail the seas eternally until he met and married
a good woman. Furthermore, it was common knowledge that the original Flying
Dutchman was a "Sea Beggar" who sailed between Antwerpen and Cornwall under
the Marque of William of Orange. His name was Johan Chope, (John Jope) a man
of the cloth and a gentleman also. Wagner's Flying Dutchman was indeed a
finely finished work but alas, his so-called trip to the sea when he
envisioned the particulars of this work differs greatly with the true events
but is without a doubt, where the master got the idea and imposed creative
license on it." Hansel Voorhees, 29 June 1872

In March 1821, the Virginia Chronicle published a story describing how
Captain John Jope of the White Lion had gotten the nickname of the "Flying
Dutchman". The Cornwall minister infuriated captains of ships consorting with
him by using a method he had devised whenever a prize came into view. Jope
would launch a pinnace and strip the prize clean before the consorters could
participate. The Chronicle states,

"It was this maneuver which earned him the reputation of the Flying Duthman."

In "English Adventurers and Immigrants" by Peter Wilson Coldham, page 182
(Warwick v. Brewster) we read a testimony of this very method employed by
Jope and the White Lion in the consort which attacked the Portuguse
'Bautista' in July 1619.

"Chope (Jope) had permission to seize Spanish Ships and in mid-July, 1619, he
took 25 of his own and Elfrith's and sailed away in a pinnace."

Der fliegende Jope also managed to outrace the Treasurer back to Virginia. He
had already traded the famous "20, and Odd" Africans four days before Elfrith
came in.

Whether or not he was the raw model for Wagner's Flying Dutchman, Captain
John Colyn Jope was not Dutch, but English with possible Dutch ancestry and
carrying a Dutch marque out of Vlissingen. The reference to a "Dutch"
man-o-war came from the ship's commission, issued from one of the titled
provinces prior to 1619. (Captain Jope's father, also John Jope may have been
involved with the Sea Beggars during the time of William of Orange and their
stories may have gotten tangled). From the reign of Elizabeth into the reign
of James, many English privateers routinely avoided the hassle of on-again,
off-again treaties by obtaining marques from foreign governments embroiled
with Spain. The Dutch commission gave Jope the vestage of legality to avoid
charges of piracy.

Rolfe and Pory referred to the man-o-war as "Dutch" and "Flemish" because
these names indicated Jope's home port and the nationality of his Marque. The
Spanish report on the Bautista attack probably reflected the nationality and
language of the attackers, therefore they identified both privateers as
"English corsairs". But it is important to note that Jope and the White Lion
were not employed by Lord Rich, had no ties to the Virginia Company, and
therefore presented no threat to the company in August 1619.

The Angolans, the first African-American forefathers in a British-American
colony, the first of the African ancestors of the Melungeons, came ashore at
Point Comfort that day from the man-o-war "White Lion", commanded by Captain
John Colyn Jope of Cornwall, England, sailing out of Vlissingen, the
Netherlands. Jope traded the "20, and Odd" Africans to Virginia governor
George Yeardley and Cape merchant Abraham Piersey in exchange for provisions.


By 1620 Elfrith and Argall were facing accusations in England centering
around the Treasurer's maraudings against ships of Spain and Portugal.
Elfrith presented a case which claimed that Treasurer's consort partner
"White Lion", the smaller of the two ships, had forced the better armed
"Treasurer" into the attack on the Bautista in 1619. Crew members of the
Treasurer dutifully repeated the story under oath. From "Abstracts from the
Examinations in the High Court of Admiralty" comes the testimony of one of
the Treasurer's crew.

"Reinhold Booth, of Reigate, Surrey, gent. aged 26. He has known Daniel
Elfrith for 10 years. In 1619 the deponent went on the 'Treasurer' [man-o-war
owned by the Earl of Warwick of the Virginia Company] to Bermuda from
Virginia and at the end of June 1619 she was compelled while in the West
Indies, to consort with a Flemish man-o-war, the "White Lion" of Flushing,
[Vlissingen, Holland] commanded by Captain Chope [Jope] who threatened to
shoot at the Treasurer unless Captain Elfrith complied with his wishes. Chope
had permission to seize Spanish ships and in mid-July of 1619, he took 25 men
from his own and Elfrith's ship and sailed away in a pinnace [a small, fast
boat attending a larger vessel]. After 3 days he brought back a Spanish
frigate which he had captured and out of good-will toward Elfrith, gave him
some tallow and grain from her. Immediately after this, the deponent departed
from Bermuda, leaving the "Treasurer" and the "Seaflower", left Bermuda for
England, 23 July 1620". [see also Warwick v. Brewster p. 12ff]

The testimony of Lord Rich's employees appears to have been aiming at an
explanation of why the Treasurer was involved in privateering without a valid
commission. Their defense seems to rationalize that, since the White Lion
carried the valid marque, it followed that the White Lion was the dominant
legal partner in the raid on the 'Bautista' and therefore any complaints
about the attack should be the responsibility of the Lion's captain, who had,
according to Elfrith's crew, "compelled" the supposedly innocent Treasurer to
join the consort.

The veracity of Elfrith's version of the attack was undermined by evidence
that he had accepted more than "tallow and grain" as his share in the
Portuguese prize. A letter from the governor of Bermuda to Lord Rich
surfaced, asserting belatedly that unreported slaves had indeed been taken
during the consort between the Treasurer and the White Lion. The governor
also admitted that he had detained seven of the Africans in view of the legal
proceedings in London. (The "Treasurer" had sold at least 14 of its share of
the Angolans in Bermuda after fleeing Virginia in 1619) According to Wesley
Frank Craven in "Dissolution of the Virginia Company", the Bermuda governor
acknowledged that he had concealed the Africans "for fear of the Company's
finding it out and taxing him for not informing them of it" as well as "for
fear of prejudicing your lordship."

This accomodation may explain why Lord Rich later shifted his free-booting
operation to Bermuda.
Elfrith's counter accusations had repurcussions on Captain Jope later in
1620. When the Heralds came to research Jope for a possible coat-of-arms,
Major Jope writes that his ancestor's enemies in court...

"...had the last laugh when the Herald denied him the Jope
Achievement-of-Arms. The negro Antonio testified before the Virginia Company
in behalf of Jope [against Capt. Daniel Elfrith], but the Crown would not
admit the evidence at the Court of Admiralty hearing.

"Antonio" cited in the inquiry testimony by Major Hugh Jope, was one of the
Angolans taken by the White Lion and the Treasurer from the Portuguese
merchant slaver in July of 1619.