|This later Jamestown church sits about 100 feet from the original wood pole structure|
Both men were buried between 1608 and 1610, just as the colony was getting established. They are among the earliest English burials in America. At a time when most people were simply buried in the dirt, these men had elaborate caskets. That, their burial dress, the objects they were interned with and their placement in the chancel tell us they were all men of great status in the colony.
I say "men" rather than "people" because in 1609 Jamestown was essentially a military outpost. Women and children did not appear in significant numbers until later. Archer wasn't married and had no children that we know of.
Even though the Church of England was the faith of the land, a significant number of people still felt allegiance to the Catholic pope. So it makes sense that some of the Jamestown settlers may have held such views. Over the past 20 years quite a few Catholic religious objects have been unearthed in and around Jamestown. Until now they were mostly dismissed as trade objects, or objects without much significance. This most recent discovery casts them all in a new light. Perhaps religious diversity came to Virginia earlier than we realized.
In the records I have seen, religious dissidents like my ancestors came to America to escape persecution in England, and they promptly vanished into the interior of the new land. The Quaker settlements, for example, were some distance from the "official colony." Or at least that's how I've interpreted the old writings. Maybe there was much more mixing, and Catholics, Quakers, and Anglicans lived together much as they do is present-day Virginia.
I've seen evidence of that in the historical records of Williamsburg in studying my own ancestors, but I did not know what to make of it. Today we'd say "Who cares what faith the guy who pumps my gas follows?" Scholars say religion was a much bigger deal back then, but perhaps its importance was overstated, at least for the common person, or among people who were struggling mightily just to survive.