Much has been written about Captain John Smith (1580-1631), to whom we owe a debt for the many books and pamphlets he produced in between his overseas adventures. This short, muscular man was a legend in his own lifetime, even before he sailed for the New World in 1607. Captain Smith lived a lifelong adventure, perhaps the least memorable of his exploits being the story of how a little Indian princess, Pocahontas, saved his life when her father the mighty chief Powhatan threatened Smith with execution.
And it was to the lovely home of his Essex friend, the aristocrat, Sir Humphrey Mildmay that this seafaring legend repaired in the autumn of 1630. Danbury Place set on the hills, among vast oaks, near Chelmsford was Mildmay's country retreat.
In the quietness of the Essex countryside, Captain Smith was able to relax and begin writing his treatise entitled an "Advirtisement for the Inexperienced Planters of New England, or anywhere", which was a rambling rather philosophical work of merit only because in it John Smith saluted the labours of those who had seemed to succeed where he had failed - the colonists of the New World.
This was to be his last book. When he returned to London from Danbury Place in the autumn of 1630, he brought the manuscript with him. In it he had summarised what he had learned through many disappointments and conflicts. It was the last thing he ever wrote, except for a last will and testament.
The "Advirtisement" was published by John Haviland in London in spring 1631. Three months later, on 21 June 1631 Captain Smith died. He had made his will earlier that day. He was interred at St Sepulchre's Church, Newgate and was mourned by Sir Humphrey Mildmay, his true Essex friend.