Saturday, February 9, 2019

1649 The Norwood Party

Not about Delmar but an interesting bit of regional history

In the fall of 1649, when Col. Henry Norwood boarded the vessel “Virginia Merchant” in England, he had no idea what he was in for. The vessel, bound for Jamestown, VA via the West Indies, made it to the West Indies without incident. However, during their journey up the coast of North America, they were tossed around at sea “…which continued in extremity for at least 40 days from the time we left land…” Finally, on January 3, 1650, vessel approached the northern portion of Assateague Island.
With “12 sickly passengers, who fancied the shore would cure them”, Norwood went ashore to gather provisions and fresh water. In the morning, however, they discovered that the ship was underway. Abandoned on Assateague, Norwood attempted to keep his already ailing wards alive by harvesting waterfowl and oysters from the island but winter storms made it difficult to gather the amount of food his party needed. Norwood noted that “It was all they could do to gather wood for the necessary fires, being they were rather weak from the lack of food and shelter.”
At some point during the ordeal, a woman in the stranded party died. Norwood recommended to the survivors “who were following her apace, to endeavour their own preservation by converting her dead carcass into food, as they did to good effect…the living fed upon the dead…” Thankfully, not everyone in Norwood’s party perished. Rescued by local Native Americans, Norwood and the surviving abandoned passengers of “Virginia Merchant” made it to Jamestown, VA in the middle of February, 1650.
Above from the Assateaque Island National Seashore Facebook page

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