Paquiquineo/Don Luís de Velasco

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Paquiquineo/Don Luís de Velasco


James Horn, author of numerous books on colonial America, and Douglas Foard, expert on Spanish history at George Mason University, describe the remarkable story of Virginia Indian Paquiquineo, also known by the Spanish as Don Luís de Velasco. This audio clip is an excerpt from an interview that originally aired in July 2005, on the radio program With Good Reason, which is produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and hosted by Sarah McConnell.


VFH Radio, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


VFH Radio


July 2005


Courtesy of VFH Radio




Chesapeake Bay
Chickahominy River
sixteenth century

Sound Item Type Metadata


James Horn: “…I think there’s a third remarkable person in this story. His name is Paquiquineo, he was an Indian who was picked up by a Spanish ship that entered the Chesapeake Bay in 1561. It’s thought he was picked up somewhere near the Chickahominy River and he was described as a principal person among the Indians. It appears that he volunteered to go with the Spanish ship Caravel back to Spain and he was presented, in 1561 or thereabouts to Philip II in the newly established capital of Madrid. He stayed in Madrid during the winter and then asked to return to his own land. But he goes on remarkable travels, he travels to Mexico City where he fell seriously ill but recovered and then some years later he returns to the Chesapeake Bay, or at least there’s an attempt in 1566. I think he is a key influence in why the Spanish went to the Chesapeake Bay and he persuades Menéndez and also Segura that he will be the instrument by which the Indians will be converted and from the Indians the Spanish could learn about a passage to the Pacific and beyond to China.

Douglas Foard: He’s a really great character, he’s picked up as Jim mentioned, and hauled to Spain and then set up in Mexico and took the name Don Luís after the viceroy of Mexico. He was so highly regarded and of course he converted to the Roman Catholic faith and ends up in Havana dying to get back to his home country, which we call Virginia and it is when he meets up with Father Segura in Havana and tells him the story of this land and its wonderful people and its inviting climate and its close connection to the tribes of Virginia that Segura thinks, ‘this is a piece of cake, we can do this, we don’t need soldiers to do it. We Jesuits can work with this man, introduce [ourselves] to the native Americans and convert them to our faith and secure them as allies for Spain,’ along what appears to be a major trading route to the West. It was a great deal and it is Don Luís de Velasco, they called him, that sold this to the Spanish, even to the skeptical tough-minded governor of Florida. It was quite a sell and he must have been a real charmer.

McConnell: So, how many people bordered what ship and landed where?

Foard: The Spanish had established an advanced base at Santa Elena, which is now as I said at Paris Island, and from there the, eight persons sailed with Captain Gomez into the Chesapeake Bay.

McConnell: And Don Luís?

Foard: And Don Luís, of course. When the Jesuits landed they portaged between two rivers which apparently were the James and the York and Don Luís then said goodbye to them and returned to his people across the river and promised to come back with supplies and help. There was some resupply, but not much help and what occurs is that the Jesuits in desperation because they were starving, crossed the river and scold Don Luís for not helping and also discover that he was living in sin and with several wives, humiliate him publicly and he did not take it well and he in fact led an attack on the Jesuit mission in 1571 and wiped out the four priests and three of the boys that were with them, leaving only one alive. Alonso de los Olmos was his name. Captain Gomez finally got back to the colony in 1571 and found no one there except Native Americans on the shoreline dressed in priest’s cassocks, inviting him to come ashore and he recognized that what had happened was that the colony had been destroyed. He reported that back to Governor Menéndez who arrived in the bay the following year, captured the Native Americans who were on the shoreline and hung every one of them.





VFH Radio, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Paquiquineo/Don Luís de Velasco,” Virginia Indian Archive, accessed May 29, 2022,

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