Friday, June 7, 2013

Italian Glassmakers

The Virginia Company decided to advance one-fourth of the amount required in the glass-making enterprise of Capt. Norton. Fifty acres were to be allowed for every person sent over by the private adventurers. A roll was drawn at which the proposition was broached, and received signatures of the proposed investors. Having this means in securing the fund needed for the equipment of himself and his followers for the glass enterprise and to meet the charges of the ocean passave, Capt. Norton, his family and all the workingmen set sail for Virginia. He erected a glass furnace. Unfortunately, Capt. Norton died and the Treasurer, Sir Sandys, who was appointed to take his place, came in charge of the works but soon met with disappointment when he was unable to obtain the proper variety of sand. On one occasion, Sands sent a shallop to the Falls for a supply, but none was found. Later, he found the correct quality of sand at Cape Henry. The difficulty was not only in the proper sand but also with the Italian crew. Sandys angrily said "that a more damned crew hell never vomited". The Italians were anxious to return to Europe and in order to effect their release, not only proceeded so slowly in their work as to accomplish little, but cracked the furnace by striking it with a crowbar.  The 1624-1625 census listed only two of the four Italians sent in 1621 residing on Treasurer's lands, Bernardo Vicenso.
Source: Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia 1624-1625.

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