A NORFOLK-born woman survived famine and attacks by Native Americans to become one of the pioneers that helped to make America. Temperance FLOWERDEW was born in Hethersett in 1590 and, after sailing to the New World, became the wife of two governors of Virginia.
Temperance was an early settler of the Jamestown colony and played a key part in the development of the area and in 2018 was named one of the greatest women in the history of Virginia by the Library of Virginia. Now a new book by English historian Mary Allan has further recognised the part that Temperance paid in the history of what became the USA. Mary describes Temperance as "a lady with ambition."
She refers to her research as "a labour of love to give the women who feature a platform so that they can appear, however briefly, in the spotlight of history for the valuable contribution they made to the establishment of America as we know it." Temperance's nephew Edmund ROSSINGHAM described her as "Norfolk born, sharp as the wind off the sea." Temperance was the daughter of Anthony Flowerdew (circa 1550-1610) of Hethersett and Martha STANLEY of Scottow.
The Flowerdew family were landed gentry and for generations their seat had centred around Hethersett. Temperance enjoyed a carefree existence growing up in the country with occasional visits to London which would have taken days. Mary states that life would never have been dull with relatives and other well connected families from neighbouring estates frequently coming to stay at Hethersett.
The children were occasionally allowed to join the grown-ups at table. On 29th April, 1609, Temperance married Richard BARROW in London - a marriage surrounded by mystery and carried out through a special licence. A few days after the marriage the newly-weds boarded the Falcon and headed for the newly founded colony of Virginia. Richard Barrow died on the journey and Temperance walked into what became known as the Starvation Time, during which many died from starvation. Temperance survived.
There was some suggestion that she returned to England before returning to the colony when fresh supplies arrived but there is no evidence to support this and it is thought that she was probably one of the lucky ones who survived. She met George YEARDLEY who became governor of the colony and who was knighted for his work.
He and Temperance had three children - Argoll, Elizabeth and Francis. Her nephew Edmund Rossingham stated that Temperance was "quite some woman in a man's world whose advice was often sought especially by the younger colonists." Temperance also had a natural affinity with any new colonist with a Norfolk background. This included John ROLFE from Heacham who married Native American POCAHONTAS.
In addition to surviving the starvation time, Temperance also avoided an uprising by native Americans which saw the slaughter of more than 350 men, women and children. When George died, Temperance was left a wealthy woman. Almost immediately she married her late husband's successor as governor, Francis West. Sadly Temperance died shortly after, leaving three young children.
She left her estate to her children, something that was challenged without success by Francis WEST. Mary’s book tells the story in a simple and flowing style that helps us to understand the life of a pioneering woman of redoubtable character—one of the women who fostered a nation. Mary’s book also features a number of other female pioneers of America. The book “Women In The New World—Nine narratives of those who helped to make America 1587-1700” can be obtained direct from the author at a price of £10. Send a cheque made out to Mary Allan to Quarry House, 24 Bloomsfield, Burwell, Cambridge, CB25 0RA.