Remembering Chanco and Richard Pace
On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, descendants of the Pace Family conducted a wreath-laying ceremony at the Chanco memorial in Surry County. They honored the memory of Richard Pace, who warned the Jamestown settlers of an impending Indian attack that would have wiped out all the settlements along the James River. Richard and Isabella Pace’s home, known as “Paces Paines”, was in present day Surry County on a high bluff across the James River from Jamestown.
The story is told that early on the morning of March 22, 1622, Chanco learned that Chief Opechancanough (Powhatan) had planned a surprise attack on all the English settlements along the river. Chanco was instructed to help kill the people on Pace’s plantation; instead, as a converted Christian, he acted swiftly to warn Richard Pace, who rowed over to the Jamestown side of the river undetected. This timely warning resulted in many lives being saved among the early colonists.
Events of this day, March 22, 1622, were described in the London Company’s official account as follows:
That the slaughter had beene vniuersall, if God had not put it into the heart of an Indian belonging to one Perry, to disclose it, who liuing in the house of one Pace, was vrged by another Indian his Brother (who came the night before and lay with him) to kill Pace, (so commanded by their King as he declared) as hee would kill Perry: telling further that by such an houre in the morning a number would come from diuers places to finish the Execution, who failed not at the time: Perries Indian rose out of his bed and reueales it to Pace, that vsed him as a Sonne: And thus the rest of the Colony that had warning giuen them, by this meanes was saued. Such was (God bee thanked for it) the good fruit of an Infidel conuerted to Christianity; for though three hundred and more of ours died by many of these Pagan Infidels, yet thousands of ours were saued by the means of one of them alone which was made a Christian; Blessed be God for euer, whose mercy endureth for euer; Blessed bee God whose mercy is aboue his iustice, and farre aboue all his workes: who wrought this deliuerance whereby their soules escaped euen as a Bird out of the snare of the Fowler.
Although Chanco was not named in this account, he was mentioned by name in a later letter from the council in Virginia to the Virginia Company of London on April 4, 1623.
The Chanco Monument was erected on the lawn of the Surry County Historic Courthouse at 28 Colonial Trail East, Surry, VA 23883 in 1929 by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, now known as Preservation Virginia.
The inscription on the monument reads:
In memory of
The Indian who lived with
Richard Pace at Pace’s Paines
in this county and who on the
night before the massacre of
March 22, 1622 informed Pace of
Opechancanough’s plot and thus
saved the Jamestown Colony
Erected A.D. 1929 by
Thomas Rolfe Branch A.P.V.A.
of Surry County