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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The Rural Homestead

During the 17th century, the English rural homestead was usually placed along the Chesapeake By, or upon one of its tidewater tributaries. Behind the main house, or on either side of it, were out houses which were usually arranged in rows or around courtyards. The water served as the principal highway, and the plantation depended upon it. Certain Indian paths became narrow lanes for carts which assisted in reaching the oldest interior roards in Virginia which extended from Jamestown to Middle Plantation, now Williamsburg.

Other than the mansion-house there were offices, kitchens and bake houses, slave quarters, school houses, dairies, barns, stables, granaries, smoke houses, spring houses, and dovecots. Also, dwellings for servants, spinning houses, smithies, tan houses, bin houses, well houses, hogsties, cornhouses, and guest houses. The gardens were sometimes called "hortyards" and included summerhouses, greenhouses, and arbors. Then there were bloomeries and ironworks, wharves for landing goods, called "bridges," warehouses, windmills, watermills, sawmills, glassworks, silkhouses, brick and pottery kilns, lime kilns, saltworks, and blockhouses. For all intents and purposes such grandiose estates were self-sustaining.

Those goods not produced in Virginia were exported from England at considerable cost and were usually landed upon the wharf in front of the plantation-dwelling. The kitchen outhouse was frequently placed at a distance from the dining room because that was the medieval custom of carrying food across the service courtyard. The wooden parts of these edifices were painted, proven by importations of color pigments and oils to make paint.

There are many details to learn by simply reading the old wills and inventories of estates. The colonists were both enterprising and frugal. As it was expensive to import items such as pane glass, nails, lumber, bricks, etc., nothing was wasted. When an old house or barn was torn down, the nails and lumber was saved. You will find this listed in the inventories.

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Tennessee Records

1930 Cadillac. Tennessee records are “moving on up”

Wills, Inventories, Settlements, Circuit Court Records, Marriages, Births, Deaths, etc. have been added to our Tennessee Collection See TN holdings

Members of Georgia Pioneers website should click on “Tennessee” in the Navigation Menu.

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The Head Right Grant

Earliest Settlements in Virginia were by Head Right Grants

The headright was the most important land grant and became the principal basis for title to land in the seventeenth century. Its origin goes back toThe Greate Charter of 1618; as follows: "

That for all persons, which during the next seven years after Midsummer Day 1618 shall go into Virginia with intent there to inhabite If they continue there three years or dye after they are shiped there shall be a grant made of fifty acres for every person upon a first division and as many more upon a second division (the first being peopled) which grants to be made respectively to such persons and their heirs at whose charges the said persons going to inhabite in Virginia shall be transported with reservation of twelve pence yearly rent for every fifty acres to be answered to the said treasurer and company and their successors for ever after the first seven years of every such grant." Thus, it is evident that not only was the headright grant of fifty acres per person open to shareholders who brought settlers into the colony, but also to anyone who had migrated to the colony at his own expense or who had financed the expedition of other persons. Individuals paying their own transportation were entitled to fifty acres for themselves and for every member of the family, providing they fulfilled the residence requirement of three years. This is how so many early settlers became large landowners of thousands of acres. The headright was set aside by the crown in 1624, however, the royal governors continued to honor headright claims based upon immigration. It became the custom. Most of the early settlers were wiped out by the Indians in 1623/1624. Note: There were no black slaves in the colony in 1619. So much for the so-called 1619 Project. If there were, they were killed by the Indians! For those interested, a listing of those exterminated are listed on Virginia Pioneers.net (part of the Georgia Pioneers membership, just click on “VirginiaPioneers”. Here is the link to the dead in Virginia in 1623/4 here

Forts and The Granting of Land

After the Indian massacre of 1623/4, land was granted on a large scale for the establishment of forts. By an Order of the Assembly in 1645 blockhouses or forts were established at strategic points: Fort Charles at the falls of the James River, Fort Royal at Pamunkey, Fort James on the ridge of Chickahominy on the north side of the James, and in the next year Fort Henry at the falls of the Appomattox River. Since the maintenance of these forts was so expensive, the officials decided to prevent the draining of the public treasury by granting forts with adjoining lands to individuals who would accept the responsibility of their upkeep as well as the maintenance of an adequate force for defense. Fort Henry, located at present-day Petersburg, was granted to Captain (later General) Abraham Wood with 600 acres of land plus all houses, edifices, boats, and ammunition belonging to the fort. Wood was required to maintain and keep ten persons continuously at the fort for three years. During this time he was exempted from all public taxes for himself and the ten persons. The same terms were provided to Lieutenant Thomas Rolfe, son of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, who received Fort James and 400 acres of land; Captain Roger Marshall, Fort Royal and 600 acres. Since there was no arable land adjoining Fort Charles at present-day Richmond, other inducements were made for its maintenance. All of these forts served as the first line of defense against possible attacks by the natives. Being the center of the varied activities of the frontier, they also were the starting point for expeditions against the Indians and became the center of trade for the outlying regions.

To see lists of land patents and grants in Virginia click here

Note: Most of the early colonists to Virginia were from Great Britain.

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