Settlers to the Northern Neck of Virginia

The Northern Neck of Virginia

The region of the Northern Neck included area reached from the Potomac River south to the Rappahannock River and from the headwaters of these two streams in the western part of the colony to Chesapeake Bay.

The counties are Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland.

A separate provision for this area began when Charles II was exiled in France following the execution of Charles I in 1649. As a reward to those cavaliers who had been faithful to the Stuart regime, Charles II exercised his royal prerogative by making a grant of the portions of tidewater Virginia that were not seated.

Hence, the Northern Neck was granted to the following seven supporters of the King: Lord John Culpeper, Lord Ralph Horton, Lord Henry Jermyn, Sir John Berkeley, Sir William Morton, Sir Dudley Wyatt, and Thomas Culpeper.

All things English affected the colonies.

For a time the proprietary charter was ineffective but was restored in chancery during 1649 and was revived after the restoration of Charles II to the throne. Although during 1662 and again in 1663 Charles II ordered the Governor and Council of Virginia to assist the proprietors in settling the plantations and receiving the rents and profits. But portions of the area had been seated since 1645, and legal obstructions were brought forth by Virginia planters and the Council to defeat the efforts of the proprietors. A second appeal to the king was by Francis Moryson, a Virginia resident agent in London. The result was good, as the original patent of 1649 was surrendered and a new charter was issued on May 8, 1669 to the Earl of St. Albans, Lord John Berkeley, Sir William Morton, and John Trethewy. Still, there was more confusion with the proprietor and landholder grants and the grant of Charles II in 1672 for all of Virginia for thirty-one years to Lord Arlington and Lord Thomas Culpeper, son of the original patentees of the Northern Neck. These two proprietors of the whole colony were to control all lands, collect rents, including all rents and profits in arrears since 1669 and exercise authority that sprang from grants previously made. After all the confusion, the number of grants decreased.

Then in March of 1675, the first land grant of 5,000 acres, later George Washington's Mount Vernon, was issued to Nicholas Spencer and John Washington of Westmoreland in the name of the proprietors with the common seal being affixed to the grant by Thomas Culpeper and Anthony Trethewy. By this date Thomas Culpeper had obtained from the proprietors of 1669 recognition of one-sixth interest in the Northern Neck for him and his cousin on the basis of their fathers having been original patentees. As opposition to the proprietary grant of the Northern Neck in Virginia continued, the proprietors became willing to sell and set the price of 400 pds. each for the six shares then held in the charter. Meanwhile, Thomas, Lord Culpeper was appointed Governor of Virginia but did not arrive in the colony until 1680. The next year Culpeper bought up the proprietary rights in Virginia, which included the rights of the other proprietors in the Northern Neck and the rights of Lord Arlington for all of Virginia. In 1684, however, he gave up the Arlington charter of 1673 to the crown in return for an annual pension of 600 pds. for twenty-one years.

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