Susan Constant

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Replica of Susan Constant (built 1989)
Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).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, possibly Sarah 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. Its keel length is estimated at 55.2 feet (16.8 meters). The overall length from tip to stern is estimated at 116 feet (35 m).

On the 1606–1607 voyage, it carried 71 colonists, all male, including John Smith.[2][3] On June 22, 1607, Christopher Newport sailed back for London with Susan Constant and Godspeed carrying a load of supposedly precious minerals, leaving behind the 104 colonists and Discovery (to be used in exploring the area).

Susan Constant, which had been a rental ship that had customarily been used as a freight transport, did not return to Virginia again. She later served as a merchant ship through at least 1615. Her fate is unknown.


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, presumably written by Sir Walter Raleigh, is as follows:

He told me of three barques on route to the New World, those whose names are, as he told me thereon, be consisted of Godspeed, Discoverie or Discovery, and one whose name split twice, I think was Sarah Constant.


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.

In popular culture[edit]

Susan Constant is depicted in the 1995 animated film Pocahontas, where its captain was Governor Ratcliffe instead of Christopher Newport.

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of the British Flag". United States National Park Service. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  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” | | Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]

  • 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)