After a of 144 days at sea, a longer than usual voyage, Captain Christopher Newport, and his three ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, made land in the Northeast corner of what is now Virginia Beach. They named the spot Cape Henry, after the son of the King, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. Further to the North, another across the bay is Cape Charles, named for the next son of King James.
The voyage and subsequent colony was undertaken on behalf of the London Company, a subsidiary of the Virginia Company, with a Royal Charter by King James I. The voyage followed a similar route to the previous colonists who made settlement at Roanoke, the infamous Lost Colony, under charter in 1585 by Elizabeth I to Sir Walter Raleigh. The name Virginia was chosen by Elizabeth and subsequently given to baby Virginia Dare, first child born in America, grand-daughter of colony leader John White, who later disappeared. Roanoke is now located in Dare County. Coincidentally, the initial exploration party to Virginia set out on April 27th, 1584.
The Jamestown party consisted of 104 men and boys, headed by Captain Newport. It is said that after resting and giving thanks and blessings led by the Reverend Robert Hunt for a period of days (sources vary between 1 and 3), the party went ashore on the 27th/29th and erected a wooden cross overlooking the bay, before striking out travelling 40 miles inland, before making their settlement at what is now Jamestown. Reverend Hunt established the first church there at Jamestown. Newport left the colonists, along with the smallest of the three ships, the Discovery, and headed back to England.
Although it unclear whether he was a member of the Jamestown party, sources have it that the Discovery was used in 1607 by navigator Henry Hudson, to make exploration in search of a Northwest passage to Asia under separate charter, possibly the voyage to Jamestown was combined with this trip, although his ship called the Discovery is described as being 55 tons, which is more than twice the weight recorded of the Jamestown Discovery. Hudson made voyage further up the large river from Virginia bay, in search of the infamous passage, before turning back. The river is now named for him. In 1610-1611, Hudson is chartered with his ship and crew again in search of a route when he ended up adrift for a number of months in the Hudson Bay, before being cast adrift with his son and seven crew members in a mutiny. They were never seen again.
Christopher Newport went on to be Admiral of Jamestown, and is commemorated by Virginia’s Christopher Newport University.
Visitors to Virginia can now see replicas of the three ships, together with re-enactments of the first landfall, and a memorial service on the anniversary.