at Sir Thomas Smith's ill Government, and the insufferable Tyranny and Iniquity of Captain Argall",-whereupon the new governor soon afterwards published his intention to assemble such a body; and this prospect of a representative legislature evidently stimulated the proprietors of land, for we find that there were located in that year at least the eight following plantations,-Archer's Hope, Berkeley, Chaplin's Choice, Jordan's Journey, Lawne's Plantation, Savage's Neck, Warde's Plantation, and Westover.‡

This, the first popular representative legislative assembly of America, met in the little wooden church at Jamestown on July 30, 1619, with twenty-two representatives present,* who, in imitation of the House of Commons and conscious of their importance, "sat in the choir with their hats on, but after prayer had been said and the oath of supremacy taken, took their seats in the body of the church fronting the governor and council [in the same house, after the manner of the Scotch Parlia

† Stith says (p. 160),-"And about the latter End of June, he called the first General Assembly, that was ever held in Virginia. Counties were not yet laid off, but they elected their Representatives by Townships. So that the Burroughs of James Town, Henrico, Bermuda Hundred, and the rest, each sent their Members to the Assembly. And hence it is that our Lower House of Assembly is called the House of Burgesses, a Name proper to the Representatives of Burroughs or Towns; and it hath, by Custom, ever since retained that Appellation altho' the Burgesses, or Members for Towns and Corporations, are very few and inconsiderable at present [1747] in Comparison of the Representatives for Counties".

Tyler's "Cradle of the Republic" (1906), pp. 234, 225, 213, 214, 205, 254, 210, 227, respectively.

"Of the twenty-two members thus elected [whose names and plantations are given below] two of them were denied their seats because the patents of the land they represented exempted their owners from obedience to the law and authority of the colony, except in matters of defense" (Barton's "Virginia Colonial Decisions", i, p. 34, n); and so we see that the "Credentials Committee" of the first Assembly was active and alert.

(From "Journals of the House of Burgesses", 1619-1658/9, vii).

[blocks in formation]

ment]"; and proceeded to the consideration of the business which was "divided into fower severall objects" (as set forth in Brown's "First Republic", pp. 317-8).

This election of representatives naturally required definite bounds and limitations for each of the plantations represented, which bounds were, of course, the forerunners of the metes and bounds of the shires and counties which were at a later date to include the areas of these early plantations.*

† Barton's "Virginia Colonial Decisions", i, p. 61.

The location and bounds of these plantations were as follows:

* ARGALL'S GIFT: located in 1619, was just above Jamestown Island on the north side of the river, situated between the Chickahominy River and Powhatan Creek, and was a portion of the three thousand acres appointed by the Company for the Governor's Land.

** CHARLES CITY: located in 1613, "extended from the said pale [run by Dale between the James River and the Appomattox River], included the neck of land now known as Jones Neck, eastward, down James River, on both sides, to the mouth of the Chickahominy River."

* FLOWER DEW HUNDRED: Located in 1618, situated on the south side of the river and just opposite Weyanoke, was a grant of one thousand



located in 1611, "included Henrico (Farrar's Island), extending thence on both sides of James River to the westward, the pale run by Dale between the said River and the Appomattox River being the line on the south side."

** JAMES CITY: located in 1617, "extended down


both sides of the river, with the same bounds near the river as the present [1898] James City and Warwick counties on the north side, and as the present Surry and Isle of Wight counties, or it may have extended to the Elizabeth River on the south side, as the southern bounds are not definitely stated." located in 1610, "extended from James City corporation


to the bay." LAWNE'S PLANTATION: located in 1619, was situated on the south side of the river, on the east side of Lawne's Creek.


located in 1617 (the present Lower Brandon), was on the south side of the river, on the west side of Upper Chippokes Creek. * MARTIN'S HUNDRED: located in 1618, consisted of some eighty thousand acres and was situated "in the east end of James City county on the west side of Skiffes (Keith's) Creek.

* SMITH'S (SOUTHAMPTON) HUNDRED: located in 1617, contained eighty thousand acres and was situated on the north side of the river, and "ran from 'Tanks Weyanoke' to the Chickahominy River".

* CAPTAIN WARDE'S PLANTATION: located in 1619, contained twelve hundred acres, situated on the south side of the river, on the east side of Warde's Creek.

The items marked thus: (*) are from Tyler's "Cradle of the Republic", 1906, chap. xiv.

The items marked thus: (**) are from Brown's "First Republic", pp. 313-14.

Owing to the great mortality which prevailed in the Colony by reason of the climate, the population suffered serious fluctuations,* but in 1620, it was estimated that there were two thousand, four hundred persons in Virginia**; for "by Captain Smith's Account, there were twenty-one Sail of Ships sent this Year, with thirteen hundred, Men, Women, and Children".†




The next year the "Fourth Charter", of June 24, confirmed former grants and privileges and "provided that the Governor should call together the General Assembly once a year, and not oftener, unless on very extraordinary and important occasions‡ and should "imitate the policy of the form of government, laws, customs, manner of tryal, and other administration of justice used in England, * while the Instructions to Governor Wyatt at the same time ordered him to provide for "dividing the colony into cities, boroughs, &c, and to appoint proper times for administration "Inferior Courts were therefore, in the Beginning of the Year 1622 appointed in convenient Places, to relieve the Governor and Council of the vast Burthen of Business, and to render justice more cheap and accessible. This was the Original and Foundation of our County Courts; altho' the Country was not yet laid off in Counties,¶ but still continued in Townships and particular Plantations, as they called those settlements, which were not considerable enough, to have the Title and Priviledges of Burroughs".††

* *

*, and law suits".||

* Of the striking fluctuations in population, Tyler's "Cradle of the Republic", 1906, pp. 183-4, has this to say:

"The following figures may be taken as approximately representing the population of the colony at different times from 1607 to 1776. The number of emigrants brought over to June 10, 1610, inclusive of Lord Delaware's company, was about 800. Between this time and December, 1618, 1,000 arrived, making a total of 1,800 persons, and of this number 1,200 died, leaving 600 survivors. Then in the interval between December, 1618, and November, 1619, 840 emigrants arrived, who made with the survivors 1,440 persons, of whom 540 died, leaving about 900 survivors. There were sent to Virginia between November, 1619, and February, 1625, 4,749 emigrants, who with the 900 of November, 1619, make a total of 5,649, of whom only 1,095 were living in Virginia February 20, 1625; showing a total mortality in about eighteen years of 6,294 persons out of 7,389 imported. After this time, the violent fluctuations of the early years ceased, and there was a slow but steady increase. In 1629, the population of Virginia was about 3,000; in 1634, 5,000; in 1649, 15,000 (of whom 500 were negroes); in 1654, 21,600; in 1665, 40,000 (of whom 2,000 were negroes); in 1681, 70,000 or 80,000; in 1715, 95,000 (of whom 23,000 were negroes); in 1755, 295,672 (of whom 120,156 were negroes); in 1776, 567,614 (of whom 270,762 were negroes)."

** U. S. Census, 1910, Abstract, p. 567, n.

Stith's "History of Virginia", pp. 203-4.

Barton's "Virginia Colonial Decisions", i, p. 62.

|| Hening, i, pp. 113, 115, 116.

Although Hening i, p. 224, quotes the word "shires" for the original divisions of the colony, yet on p. 223 of the same volume, we find quoted from "Roll No. 11,-1634", "Pa. 174,-Sheriffs appointed for the several counties", which is the earliest use of the word "county" officially used that we have been able to locate. Page 228, of this same volume gives an abstract (very brief) of an Act (XXII) of 1639-'40, a copy of the full text of which will be found in Part VI, chap. i, below, wherein the word "countye" is used many as five times; again, we find the word used in this volume of Hening, and again on p. 272-3, for designating the "countie courts", for the

's "History of Virginia", p. 207-8.

On March 22, 1622, occurred the Great Massacre, in which, "in one Hour, and almost at the same Instant, fell three hundred and forty-seven, Men, Women, and Children [of the twelve hundred and forty English living in Virginia]".*

The news of this was received by the Company with "inexpressible Grief" and was a sincere shock to the adventurers and to the English generally. The disaster discouraged colonization and greatly dampened the ardour of those who wished to settle new plantations on the outskirts of civilization, though the whole affair was largely attributed to the negligence of the governor and the colonists, who had not heeded such warnings as the attempt of Opechancanough to poison the whole Colony, and the death of Nemattenow. But a re-action set in almost at once, and there was a patriotic, though more or less non-effectual, effort to assist and re-inforce such as had escaped the tragic affair, with the result that the king gave "for immediate Dispatch" twenty barrels of powder, but only "upon the Security of the Company's Seal, afterwards to repay it", Lord St. John of Basing gave sixty coats of mail; and there were many other offers of assistance, for it was felt that the Colony, settled at so great expense and at the cost of so many lives,* should be saved and perpetuated; while the colonists, after formally rejecting a proposal to abandon James Towne, at once began a concentration of all resources at the most easily defended plantations and especially those in the neighborhood of Jamestown Island.

Right on top of this disaster, the king laid oppressive imposts on tobacco, while the Company quarrelled violently amongst themselves and thus re

• Brown's "First Republic", p. 464; wherein it is said, "In March, 1621, there were 843 English in Virginia, of whom about 750 were acclimated. Between that date and March, 1622, seventeen ships arrived in Virginia, which left England with 1,580 persons. In March, 1622, there were by the census 1,240 English living in Virginia. Of 2,423 people (about 750 acclimated and 1,673 newcomers) 1,183 had died en route and in Virginia, showing that the death rate among the newcomers had been almost as great in the summer of 1621 as in that of 1620, probably equally as great, because of the 1,240 living, about four hundred had recently arrived and had not yet gone through the seasoning".

Stith (p. 281), quoting from the Company's "Declaration", says "there were still (Christmas, 1622) remaining (as was computed) above five and twenty Persons, sent over at the Expense only of thirty thousand Pounds of the public Stock, Yonge's "Site", p. 43, says, "A census taken in 1623 gives the population of the town (James Towne) at 183. It also shows that during the preceding year, eighty-nine people had died in the town".

Yonge's "Site" (p. 44) says, "Captain Nathaniel Butler represented that up to the winter of 1622, the mortality was 8,000 out of 10,000, while the resident colonists declareu that up to the winter of 1622 not over 6,000 were sent to Virginia, of whom 2,500 were living. Captain John Smith says that 'neere 7,000 people out of 8,500 had died to 1627' ".

Flower dew Hundred, Kiccoughtan, Paspahey, Shirley Hundred, Southampton Hundred, Jordan's Point and Newport News,-the latter two having been successfully defended by their respective owners, who refused to obey the orders to concentrate at the other points,-to say nothing of "Mrs. Proctor, a proper, civil, and modest Gentlewoman, who, with an heroic spirit, defended her Estate for a Month, till she, with all with her, were obliged, by the English Officers, to go with them and leave their substance to the Havock and Spoil of the Enemy" (Stith, pp. 235-6).

tarded development just at the time when it was most needed; for, "according to John Wroth, a member of the Warwick faction, up to 1623, 3,570 out of 5,720 colonists died in the four years ending 1622".‡

The Assembly of 1623/4 provided "that there shall be courts kept once a month in the corporations of Charles City and Elizabeth Citty for the decyding of suits and controversies not exceeding the value of one hundred pounds of tobacco and for punishing of petty offences, * '; and so for the first time undoubtedly came up the question of the territorial jurisdiction of these several courts,-the question of over what area, to what extent and within what metes and bounds each of the now three courts had jurisdiction, the forerunner of the question of county boundaries, for "this was the first step taken by law' for the establishment of the Monthly Courts which were afterwards given the English name of County Courts".* The "Humble Petition" and Butler's "Unmasked Face", with their charges and counter-charges, brought on more violent quarrels within the Company, as well as between the Company and His Majesty, with the result that the year 1623 saw a demand from the king forced upon the Company to state whether they would surrender their old charters and accept a new one with certain suggested amendments; to which the Company replied in the negative, whereupon His Majesty appointed Commissioners "to make particular and vigilent Enquiry, touching divers Matters, which concerned the State of the Colony of Virginia",† after which the king forced various irregular rulings against the Company.

"However, at the time, [the dissolution of the Company] was by no means the wish of the colonists, for the good things that had come to them had come through the Company, while the evil ones had been chiefly of the King's making". The end of the Company came, however, from several influences, but more immediately from James's jealousy of the freedom of discussion in the meetings of the council of the London Company,


Factions in the Company itself hastened its downfall, and finally, in October, 1623, about seventeen years after it came into existence, its charter was revoked by an Act of the Privy Council, and its delegated powers of sovereignty were resumed by the King,§ after "they had also expended largely above an hundred thousand Pounds, out of their own private Fortunes"," and although "between November, 1619, and February, 1625, 4,749 came to Virginia and 4,400 died, thus making a total mortality in about nineteen years of 6,040, out of 7,289".¶

At the time the Colony was turned over to the Crown in February, 1625, the population was one thousand, two hundred and twenty-seven, which number included twenty-three negroes and two Indians, while the General

Yonge's "Site", p. 43-4.

|| Hening, i, p. 125.

Barton's "Virginia Colonial Decisions", i, p. 194.

↑ Stith's "History of Virginia" p. 299.

§ Barton's "Virginia Colonial Decisions", i, p. 65.

** Stith's "History of Virginia", p. 340.

¶ Yonge's "Site", p. 43.

tt Brown's "First Republic", p. 627.

« VorigeDoorgaan »