Monday, June 9, 2014

Towns and Brick Houses

Brickhouse in Jamestown ca 1740
House in Jamestown ca 1740
The plantations were always in a state of enlargement, for agriculture was the source of the economy. Tobacco crops were exported abroad and used for monetary exchanges.  Just about everything was paid for in tobacco, including the required tithe to the church. An effort was made to encourage those persons on nearby plantations to also have a house in town. The custom was that on Saturday afternoon the servants were relieved of work and were ordered to leave the plantation, with only a few to remain, the rest to go to the towns in which their masters had taken up residence and there (in their masters' houses) were to spend the Sabbath. This notion provided everyone the opportunity to attend divine service.  The days to bring goods to the market were set aside as Wednesdays and Saturdays, however traffic did not increase to Jamestown and in consequence the Act was repealed in 1655.  The planters had little desire to promote the building of towns even though the authorities in England passed a number of laws having this plan. In 1662 Governor Berkeley, after the return of the Stuarts to power (in England), was commanded to use his influence to induce the planters to erect a town upon every important river. Berkeley himself was commanded by the English Goveernment to build several houses in the town, presumably at his own expense, and he was told to inform the members of the Council that the authorities in England would be highly pleased if each one would erect a residence at Jamestown.  Considering the hardships which the settlers had suffered since the settlement of Jamestown and the continuing struggle to exist among savage Indians, it is no wonder that planters were busy with the business of survival.  Hence, the expansion of plantations was more important to the colony at large. Source: Instructions to Berkeley, 1662.

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