A reliquary discovered in the grave of Gabriel Archer, a founding member of Jamestown has raised the possibility that there were crypto-Catholics among these early settlers. David Collins, S.J., associate professor and director of doctoral studies in the history department at Georgetown University wrote in a blog post on America Media’s website: “Given the Anglican identification of the early settlement and the animosity of the Anglican establishment toward Catholicism, a secret Catholic among the settlement’s leadership would be historically significant—a seeming contradiction to conventional historical understanding of the British Empire in general and the 13 colonies in particular as Protestant, in contrast to Catholic New France to the north and Catholic New Spain to the south.” He added: “Captain Archer’s Catholicism, if it is ultimately proved, is exciting because of who he was in Jamestown. But rather than teaching us something new about Catholicism in British colonial North America, a best hope is that it will help popularize a growing scholarly insight into the significant Catholic presence in British colonial North America. These Catholics included English gentry, Jesuit priests, Irish field hands and maids and African slaves, among others.”
Secret Catholics at Jamestown?