Tuesday, May 27, 2014

1636: Homes in Jamestown

The Virginia General Assembly passed the Act of 1636 which designated lots (of land) sufficiently extensive in area to provide room for a house and garden, at an annual rental to the King of one copper, to every person settling at Jamestown.  The land appropriated was half a mile along the river bank as the site for private residences. Only twelve houses and stores were erected, including the residence for Secretary Kemp.  Kemp's house was pronounced as the finest house (public or private) that had been built in the colony.  The example of the Kemp house led others to erect framed houses.  This was during the time in which plans were in the works to construct a brick church and large amounts of tobacco were contributed to the cause.  Although other public houses were constructed, there was no inn at Jamestown during this time. A few years earlier Governor Harvey had complained that he could not host a large number of people in Jamestown without a public house. When Governor Berkeley arrived in the colony in 1642, the order was given that to every person to whom a lot was provided should construct a brick house sixteen feet in breadth and twenty-four feet in length, and there was to be a cellar.  Source: Instructions to Berkeley, 1641; Virginia in the Seventeenth Century by Bruce.

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