Susan Constant

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Replica of Susan Constant (built 1989)
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg[1]England
Name: Susan Constant (or Sarah Constant)
Owner: Virginia Company of London
In service: before 1607
Out of service: after 1615
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 120
Length: est. 116 ft (35 m)
Sail plan: fully rigged ship

Susan Constant, captained by Christopher Newport, was the largest of three ships of the English Virginia Company (the others being Discovery and Godspeed) on the 1606–1607 voyage that resulted in the founding of Jamestown in the new Colony of Virginia.


Susan Constant was rated at 120 tons. Her keel length is estimated at 55.2 feet (16.8 meters). Her overall length from tip to stern is estimated at 116 feet.

On the 1606–1607 voyage, she carried 71 colonists, all male, one of whom was John Smith of Pocahontas fame.[2][3] She returned to England in May 1607. She served as a merchant ship through at least 1615. Her fate is not known.

The alternative name Sarah Constant has been cited, and is shown as being the name noted on the earliest document,[4] leading to a belief that Samuel Purchas[5] had the name wrong in his Pilgrims book.[6] There is growing support for the name Sarah Constant.[7] The article that cites Sarah Constant is as follows:

He tolde me of three barques on route to the New Worlde, thouse whose names are, as he tolde me thereon, be consysted of "Godspeed", "Discoverie" or "Discovery", and one whose name splyte twice, I think ´was "Sarah Constant". — presumably written by Sir Walter Raleigh.


The stern of the replicated Susan Constant, located in Jamestown Settlement.

Replicas of Susan Constant and her sisters, Godspeed and Discovery, are docked in the James River at Jamestown Settlement (formerly Jamestown Festival Park), adjacent to Historic Jamestowne.

Modern depictions

In May 2007, the United States Postal Service issued the first 41-cent denomination first class stamp. The stamp had an image of Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Susan Constant was also depicted on Virginia's coin of the 50 State Quarters, in celebration of the quadricentennial of Jamestown.

Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, commemorated on the Virginia State Quarter.

In Popular Cultures

Susan Constant appears in Pocahontas. Its captain was Governor Ratcliffe instead of Christopher Newport.

See also


  1. "History of the British Flag". United States National Park Service. Retrieved April 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. The Great Rogue by Noel Gerson
  3. Jamestown Settlement & Yorktown Victory Center: Jamestown Settlement Ships
  4. JSTOR: “The Susan Constant and the Mayflower”, by Minnie G. Cook
  5. JSTOR: “Sarah versus Susan”, by Gregory Robinson, Robin R. Goodison
  6. Samuel Purchas (1575?-1626): Purchas His Pilgrimes, In Five Books
  7. “Decades of work will see a ship’s story honored today” | |

Further reading

  • Lavery, Brian. (1988) The Colonial Merchantman Susan Constant 1605. London: Conway Maritime Press.
  • Price, David A. (2003) Love and Hate in Jamestown. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (chapter 2)
  • Spectre, Peter H.; Larkin, David. (1991) Wooden Ship: The Art, History, and Revival of Wooden Boatbuilding. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ("The Building of the Susan Constant", pp. 67-139)