Vanished Worlds, Enduring People

Continuing Encounters

John Rodgers Jewitt. Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of John R. Jewitt. Middletown, Connecticut: S. Richards, 1815. [view first image] | [view second image]

Jewitt, a young English blacksmith, was captured in March 1803 when the fur-trading brigantine Boston, moored in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, was attacked by men led by Maquinna from the village of Yuquot. Angered by a perceived insult, and frustrated by the ill-treatment they had long received from European traders, the villagers killed all but two of the crew. In return for his life, Jewitt agreed to be Maquinna’s slave and to forge daggers, knives, and other implements for his people.

Jewitt’s Narrative is rich in ethnographic detail about village life along Nootka Sound. His account also shows the disdain he felt towards his captors. Captivity literature, which emphasized adventurous hardship endured by innocent captives, was extremely popular in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Jewitt’s work is still in print.

View the Previous Section | View the Next Section