Monday, July 28, 2014

Jamestown: First Parsonage

Rev. Mr. Alexander Whitaker probably occupied the first parsonage erected in Virginia. It was situated on the western side of the James River at a point opposite Henricopolis, was a frame building and was known as "Rock Hall".  Many years later there was a parsonage standing further down the river at Martin Brandon because there is a record of a bequest of John Sadler, London Merchant, to repair it. Whitaker was the son of one of the most celebrated preachers of the age and won his degree of master-of-arts at Cambridge.  His mission to America was to "help to bear the name of God to the Gentiles" (Indians). This statement, I believed, amazed his friends.  "My coming to Virginia," he wrote, "has been prosperous, and my continuane here hath been answerable. I think I have fgared better for your prayers and the rest.  Though my promise of three years' service to my country be expired, I will abide in my vocation here until I be lawfully called hence."  Thus, Whitaker remained in Virginia until he accidentally drowned in the James River!

Sources: Works of Captain John Smith, vol. ii, p. 12, Richmond edition; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. iv, p.316; Brown's Genesis of the United States, vol. ii, pp. 614-615.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Rev. James Blair

Tomb of Rev. James Blair at Jamestown, Virginia
In 1690 Rev. James Blair, who had been in the colony for five years, was appointed the first Commissary in Jamestown. He first settled in Henrico County but later on became the incumbent of the pulpit at Jamestown.  Blair was born in Scotland . His annual salary was one hundred pounds sterling which was paid out of the fund of the quit-rents, but was paid irregularly. However, Rev. Blair failed to invest the position of Commissary with any real power or influence. The Bishop of London acknowledged that the people of Virginia were disposed to condemn and slight his representative's authority, therefore, the Commissary should continue to occupy a seat in the Council as a means of securing for him a higher degree of popular consideration and respect. The Bishop referred to Blair as being "a discreet man who would give no offense".  Rev. Blair was involved in what was discribed as violent contention with Governor Nicholson on the subjet of a claim made by Blair that the Governor was the mouthpiece, not only of the King but also of the Bishop of London in the Colony. The claim was based on a statute passed about 1643 at a time when there could be no representative in Virginia (save the Governor) at the head of the diocese.  Blair also interferred in several cases of moral offenses, such as the incestuous marriage which came within the ecvclesiastical jurisdiction of the ordinary courts. On this issue, he was rebuked and the cases were referred to the courts for prosecution. Blair defended the colonists against the tyranny of the royal governors and had a play in the recall of three of them, viz: Edmund Andros, Francis Nicholson and Alexander Spotswood.  He also served as the Rector of Bruton Parish in Williamsburg from 1710 until he died. It was Dr. Blair who organized the construction of the church building, beginning in 1711. In 1722 he published Our Savior's Divine Sermon on the Mount, which was a collection of five volumes of his sermans from 1707 to 1721.  He was also the author of The Present State of Virginia and the College, published in 1727.  Blair died April 18, 1743 at the age of 87 and his body was taken to Jamestown where he was buried next to his wife Sarah (nee Harrison) Blair who had died in 1713 on the Jamestown Island.
 Sources: Letter of Bishop of London to Sir Philip Meadows, B. T. Va., 1698, vol. vi. p. 339; Memorial of Virginia Clergy (ca 1693), Lambeth Palace, Cod. Mis. No. 954.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Barron of Standish, England



Robert Barron, was born in Standish, Lancashire, England, and died in James City
County, Virginia and is listed as the first of the family to emigrate to America. “Robert
Barron, age 18, to Virginia in 1635”. Original Lists of Persons of Quality, page 106. His son, Andrew, came over on the ship David with  Capt. John Stythe who was granted 575 acres in James City County.  The Barron genealogy is available to members of Virginia Pioneers


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Monday, July 7, 2014

Bassett of Noble Lineage

Bassett of James City County


The first Bassett, Thurstine de Bassett, came with William the Conqueror to England and includes many noble families.   From this illustrious lineage descends William Bassett, who came to America in 1621 in the ship "Fortune." His name appeared on the list of freemen in 1633. He served as a representative to the court for six years; was in the Pequod War. William Bassett, captain in the King's army; after the defeat of Dunkirk, immigrated to Jamestown, Virginia, where he was contracted to build a fort. He was married to Bridget Cary, the daughter of Colonel Miles Cary of Southampton, England. Like so many of the first settlers to Jamestown, he died shortly after the birth of his son.  His cousin, the famous Nathaniel Bacon, then Governor of Virginia, was directed to care for his son. Bacon dutifully raised the boy; he build a mansion in New Kent County, Virginia, named it "Eltham" after the Bassett family residence in England. 

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Capitol moved to Middle Plantation

Map of Jamestown
Jamestown burned down again towards the close of the 17th century, this time by accidental fires. Considering all of the trouble in Jamestown, it was decided to remove the capitol of the Colony to the Middle Plantation (Williamsburg), which had many wholespring springs, two creeks, one of which emptied into the James, the other into the York. It was said that the new site offered the advantages of a healthy and temperate situation.  The plan of abandoning Jamestown as the site had been contemplated on several occasions.  The actual measure for incorporating the new capital was not introduced into the General Assembly until 1699 and it was embodied in the code of 1705.

Source: Hening's Statutes, Vol. III, pp. 197, 419.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Twelve to Fourteen Families

Map of Jamestown
During 1675, Jamestown consisted of only twelve or fourteen families, who obtained a living chiefly by keeping houses of entertainment.  There were twelve new brick houses and a number of framed houses with brick chimneys attached.  The two most substantial residences in the town were owned by Mr. Lawrence and Dr. Drummond.  When Jamestown was laid to ashes (Bacon's Rebellion) by the soldiers of Bacon, Drummond and Lawrence applied the torch each to his own home.  That meant that they were part of the rebellion.  The church and state-house were also destroyed and when the English regiments finally arrived to suppress the insurrection, there was not a house left standing!

 Source: Colonial Entry Book 80, pp. 90, 94.

Source: Bacon's Proceedings, p. 25, Force's Historical Tracts, Vol. I.

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