Amazing Mothers

Amazing Mothers

by Charles Margerison

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781921752773
Publisher: Amazing People Worldwide
Publication date: 06/01/2010
Series: Amazing People Worldwide - Inspirational
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 44
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Educational psychologist and entrepreneur, Dr Charles Margerison, created the concept for the Amazing People series during a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, when he wondered what Shakespeare might say if he was interviewed about his life achievements. The series now features the stories of over 500 amazing people.As well as working in educational institutions for many years, Dr Margerison has consulted widely for global organizations. He was previously Professor of Management at Cranfield University, UK, and the University of Queensland, Australia. The author of numerous books, Dr Margerison is a member of the Royal Institution and the Royal Society of Literature.

Read an Excerpt

Amazing Mothers

By Charles Margerison

Viewpoint Resources Ltd

Copyright © 2017 Charles Margerison
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-921752-77-3


Anne Burras

1594 – c. 1650

Some days can change your life
In June 1608, that happened to me
I was working as a servant, for Margaret Forrest
She ran into the dining room where I was cleaning
Out of breath, she said, 'Anne, I have received a letter'
'My husband has asked me to join him, at his new place of work'
'I want you to come with me, as my maidservant'
'Where are we going?' I asked
'Jamestown, Virginia,' my mistress replied
'Where in England is that?' I enquired
'It is not in this country,' she said with a smile
'We have to go across the Atlantic Ocean'
I was not told much more, until we boarded the boat
My mistress, Margaret Forrest, was married to a colonial settler
As she was moving, I had to follow or lose my job
It was not for me to question, so I packed the bags
Mrs Forrest told me to include all her dresses and silverware
So, I guessed that we would be away for a long time
As her maid, it was my duty to have things ready
I did not have the option of returning home
My parents had died when I was young
Therefore, as soon as possible, I took a job in service
Never did I think it would mean leaving England
Within a few weeks, we were on our way to the port
We boarded a boat with big beautiful sails blowing in the breeze
It was the first time that I had left dry land
The next day, we cast off from the shore and departed
At the age of 14, I was sailing across a huge ocean
Excited, but also rather concerned
Wondering if I would survive the great waves
Not sure if I would like Jamestown, Virginia - wherever it was
Would I ever see England again?
Our accommodation was a small cabin that was damp and smelly
My mistress and I were the only two females on board
There were over 60 sailors, including my brother John
He had enlisted when I told him where I was going
Most others were rough types
Some tried to get me to spend time alone with them
My mistress told them to keep their distance
Once away from land, I felt ill
I feared for my life, as we sailed from one storm to another
Each day became more difficult
Our clothes were always wet from the mist and rain
Mrs Forrest started to cough, and found it hard to eat
Although I tried to feed her, she became weaker
Prayers were offered for her health and our safety
After about two months, we saw land
There was a cheer from all on board
Except from Margaret Forrest
She was most unwell
On September 30th 1608, we arrived at Jamestown
A small British colony in Virginia, America
The central area was no more than about one acre in size
It looked more like a building site in poor condition
The first settlers, who had arrived in December 1606, greeted us
They were surprised to see two females disembark
Albeit, my mistress had to be carried ashore
Conditions in the colony were very difficult, and food was scarce
To my despair, soon after we arrived, Margaret Forrest passed away
Crying at her woodland graveside, I said two simple prayers
One for her, and one for myself
I was the only English girl in this new land of over 200 white men
Beyond our small port village, the Indians spied on us
We knew they were waiting to attack
It was a frightening experience
Initially, I slept on board the boat, which was guarded by sailors
During the day, I cooked meals for the workmen
Being the only girl, I had no one to talk to of my own age
Thankfully, a young Indian girl came to visit us one day
Her name was Pocahontas
She had saved the life of Mr Smith, one of our leaders
We met, and learnt words in our respective languages
She seemed a friendly kind of person
Our friendship helped improve relations with the Indians
However, within the colony, I felt at risk
Many men sought my attention, and there were some fights
My brother John was inevitably involved, trying to defend me
One Sunday, after church, a tall man spoke to me
He looked to be about ten years older than me
'Hello,' he said, 'I'm John Leydon'
'Thank you for the meals you have cooked'
'It is a pleasure,' I replied
'Are you still living in the boat cabin?' he asked
'Yes, but it is only for a while,' I said
'The boat will leave soon,' I added
'If you want, I can help,' he offered
'In what way?' I enquired, feeling a bit nervous
'You need a place of your own to live in,' he said
Not quite sure if it was a question or a statement, I nodded
'I'm a carpenter and can build you a house,' he offered
'But, I have no money to pay you,' I replied
He waved his hand and said, 'There is no need to pay me'
Taken by surprise, I just said, 'Thank you, Mr Leydon'
'See you tomorrow,' he smiled and left to join the other men
Alone, I walked back to my cabin on the ship
The next day, I saw him digging and then cutting down a tree
'This is the best place for a log cabin,' he said
'It is well protected from the wind and has good drainage'
Being physically strong, he made good progress
I could also see the other men respected him for his strength
After the foundations, he built the walls
He did not speak to me very much but worked hard
He seemed kind, in a brusque sort of way
When I visited, a couple of days later, he was putting the roof on
At the end of the week, the small wooden hut was finished
'Thank you Mr Leydon, for building me a place to live,' I said
'I hope you will be happy here,' he replied, holding his hat ready to go
Then, he gave me a quick hug and kissed me on the cheek
It was the first time a man had done that to me
Seeing that I was surprised, he picked up his tools and left
On the Sunday, after the church service, he came to see me
'Do you like your new place?' he asked
'Oh, yes,' I said, 'Come and see what I have done'
I invited him in, to show him how I had made it into a home
'What was your life like in England?' he enquired
I told him that I was an orphan and worked for Margaret Forrest
He told me he had come to the colony to find a better way of life
The next day, he returned to my log cabin when it was raining
'Just want to see if any water has been coming in,' he said
There were a couple of leaks that I showed him
He soon sealed the problem areas
The storm got worse and lightning lit up the sky
We shared stories and laughed as the thunder roared
It was good to be in my own home on such a wild day
John made a fire and I felt at ease with him
The storm continued and lightning felled some trees
As it was late, and rather scary, I suggested that he stay
'Thanks,' he said, 'it will save me getting wet'
He kissed me and went to sleep on the other side of the hut
Suddenly, I had a feeling of warmth towards him
After leaving early in the morning, he returned that evening
'Anne, I have been thinking, and have a question for you'
'Will you marry me?' he asked, standing once again with his cap in hand
It took me completely by surprise
Not sure what to say, I smiled and nodded, just as I had before
Once again, he kissed me, this time more fervently
The next day, we went to see the minister of our church
'You are only 14 years of age,' he said
'Is it your firm wish to marry John Leydon?'
'Yes,' I replied looking at John, 'That is what we both want'
In November 1608, friends in the colony gathered round
In a simple wedding ceremony, we were married
John, my first and only boyfriend, became my husband
We were the first white couple to be married in the new colony
With scant rations, we celebrated by having a small party
At the end, everyone gave us three cheers
John picked me up and carried me to the home he had built
'Mrs Leydon, can I share your home?' he asked
We both laughed and he went off to build us a bed
The start of our married life
The following May, another boat arrived
To my relief, it brought other women and children
However, the Sea Venture, the other ship that was due, did not arrive
That was the ship with the food supplies
It meant more mouths to feed from our dwindling stock
There were few crops and fishing provided the main food
By that time, I was pregnant
An exciting but worrying experience
I was only just 15 years of age
In December 1609, our daughter was born
We called her Virginia, to reflect our new homeland
In a short time, my life had changed in many ways
I had moved from being a maid, to a wife and a mother
Indeed, the first white mother in this new colonial land
Our facilities were basic
I had to quickly learn how to cope
Each day was a challenge, trying to keep my child alive
At the same time, the colonists were trying to survive attacks
All around us were the Powhatan Indians
Our attempts at making peace had not worked
We had to defend our small area, rather than hunt more widely
Only our primitive weapons saved us from a massacre
Also, the vicious cold winter, with wind and ice, drained our energy
We called it 'The Starving Time'
The colonists were reduced to eating dogs, horses, rats, and snakes
Famine and disease reduced our number to about 60 souls
The Paspahegh Indians were becoming more dangerous
Fear lay all around
It was hard to sleep at night
Every sound signaled possible danger
Each day, I waited anxiously for John to return from work
'Don't worry,' he would say, 'God will protect us'
For good measure, we said our prayers
However, we also needed to take action
As the spring sun slowly began to shine, we made plans to move
Governor Percy was replaced by Governor Gates
A good choice in my view, as Percy was not up to the job
The new Governor thought it better to settle in Chesapeake Bay
On June 7th 1610, we boarded our ship and set sail
Soon after departure, we met a supply ship arriving from England
On board were about 150 settlers and a new leader for our colony
Baron De La Warr said that he was our new Governor
He showed us the food and materials they had brought
As a result, we returned to our Jamestown colony
The Governor immediately went to war on the Indians
He told the settlers to torch their homes and crops
Not pleasant, but we slept safer in our beds each night
Pocahontas was kidnapped and held as a hostage
When I heard this, I went to see her
We talked and I tried to comfort her
It was one of many meetings
In due course, she converted to Christianity
John Rolfe, a strong Christian believer, befriended her
He helped her learn English and they read the Bible together
On arrival in about 1611, Rolfe had developed tobacco farming
That made a big difference to the colony
The exports led to more jobs and money in Jamestown
His relationship with Pocahontas became stronger
She confided in me that he wanted to marry her
'I like Mr Rolfe, but my family will be suspicious,' she said
'However, if we marry it could bring our people together'
She did indeed marry John Rolfe, in 1614
For a while, relationships with the Indians improved
That was good news, as more people arrived from England
Our community developed with the new skills they brought
Gradually, our standard of living improved
One night, John arrived home with some news
'Anne, we can acquire some land and start farming'
'What do you think?'
Neither of us had much experience with animals and crops
We talked it over until it was dark
'It's a risk, but let's do it,' I said and we celebrated
As a result, we moved to a new settlement called Elizabeth City
Named in honor of our previous English Queen
My husband continued to work hard and became a landowner
A new log cabin had to be built
'This time, I will make it big enough for all of us,' said John
He gave me a kiss and then we went for a walk on our new property
It was over 200 acres in size and a big task to manage
That is how I became a farmer's wife
Learning how to tend the animals was a challenge
Being a practical man, John soon had things organized
He was kind and considerate, in a quiet way
'You look beautiful,' he said one summer morning
Putting my arms around him, I said, 'I am pregnant again'
When Virginia started running around, Margaret arrived
In the next five years, we were fortunate to have two others
Katherin and Alice were born, while I was still young
Four daughters, who would become founding mothers of our colony
In the following years, we shared many enjoyable moments
Yet, we had our problems
Most were not of our own making
From time to time, there were outbreaks of illness
Medical help was minimal, as we had few cures
Native herbs were the only way to reduce the symptoms
We prayed that nature would heal the serious illnesses
Sometimes it did not, and we lost many good people
We prayed for good health and counted our blessings
Gradually, we learnt how to cope in various ways
A school was established for the children
One day, my eldest daughter ran home very excited
'A ship has docked and your other brother is on it,' she said
We raced to the village at the quayside
Sure enough, Anthony was there
I had not seen him since childhood
We had an impromptu party, late into the night
Anthony quickly made friends with my husband
Being entrepreneurial, they acquired 1250 acres of land
By working hard, they developed a strong business
As leading farmers in the colony, we prospered
Our children were now growing up and needed more space
'I can build a larger house,' said John
This time it took him a few weeks to complete
So different to the first log cabin that he had made for me
Also, it was much larger than the second house on the farm
In the summer evenings, I sat on the verandah and reflected
Remembering the disastrous days when my parents died
Then, my days as a maid working for Mrs Forrest
Remembering also the day that I left England
The excitement and problems of the journey
That was followed by the hard times during the early days in Virginia
Then the turning point, when John Leydon spoke to me
The start of my married life at the age of 14
I could have said no, but chose to say yes
In doing so, I became the first colonial mother in our Virginia colony
Creating our family of four daughters, and grandchildren
All native-born citizens of America
As I reflected, I counted my blessings
Although I married under pressure, it was the right decision
John became a founding father of a great new country
He called me 'The First Lady of America'
With my daughters, we established our culture and language
Helping our new society survive and grow
Setting the heritage for the generations to come
Indeed, we were the founding mothers of the new America.

Anne Burras

1594 – c. 1650


Anne was born in England, in 1594. In 1606, King James I of England tried once more, to fruitfully impregnate the mythically rich, virgin land. He established two companies made up of merchant-adventurers, eager to experience the tantalizing riches of North America - these were the Virginia (London) Company and the Virginia (Plymouth) Company. The first to embark was the Virginia (London) Company, which sent forth three ships in December of 1606. James gave them three objectives: find gold, find a route to the South Seas, and find the Lost Colony of Roanoke.


In 1608, Anne was the first female to settle and marry in the new English colony of Jamestown, in the American colony of Virginia. She arrived on September 30th 1608, at the age of 14. She was the maid of Mrs Forrest, whose husband was a colonist. They had travelled on the boat called Mary and Margaret, and in the damp conditions, Mrs Forrest took ill. A few days after arrival, Mrs Forrest died. That meant Anne Burras was the only female amongst over 200 men. Within two months of her arrival, she met and married John Leydon, a carpenter. He was about ten years older than Anne and had been in the colony since May of 1607.

In December 1609, Anne gave birth to a daughter; the first known child of colonists to survive. Anne and John had four daughters and established the founding dynasty of English families, in what was to eventually become the United States of America. Anne, therefore, has the right to be called the founding Mother of the new America.

Her marriage to John Leydon was a long one. They were registered on the 1625 roll of residents, with their daughters Virginia, Margaret, Katherin and Alice. Having survived the 'Starving Time' and attacks by the Indians, their fortunes had changed. They owned over 200 acres of land and later acquired another 1250 acres, in 1636.


To learn more about Anne's life, you can visit Historic Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English settlement in America. That is where Anne established her first home after the Atlantic crossing. There are a number of guided tours available to visitors, including a tour of the trenches in which you can learn about the archaeological work and the discoveries that have been made there.

The Jamestown Settlement is home to an extensive gallery, which has exhibitions and a replica of a Native American Powhatan village, similar to where Anne's friend, Pocahontas, would have lived.

The date of Anne's death is unknown, but is believed to be around the year 1650.


Excerpted from Amazing Mothers by Charles Margerison. Copyright © 2017 Charles Margerison. Excerpted by permission of Viewpoint Resources Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Life Stories of Amazing People,
Anne Burras,
Marie Curie,
Lillian Gilbreth,
Susannah Holmes,
Queen Victoria,
The Author,
The Amazing People Club Team,

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