The year in which this year’s newborns become teenagers, this country will celebrate its Sestercentennial birthday. To a child that may seem a lifetime, to us adults, such years come with increasing speed. Yet, even with our nation’s 250th year in sight, the first, permanent English settlement established on this continent is already over 400 years old. Approaching its 400th year in 2007, the National Parks Service commissioned a “collaborative study know as the Jamestown Archealogical Assessment.” This wide-spread, multidisciplinary study involved scientists, historians, librarians, and technologists form a wide field of studies. This study provided the first comprehensive ‘reconstruction of property ownership and land use from the first decade of establishment’ through modern times. Martha W. McCartney was an active participant in this study. Using information gathered from the study, she has put together Jamestown People to 1800: Landowners, Public Officials, Minorities, and Native Leaders.
This books contains a comprehensive collection of short biographies on the people living in and doing business with Jamestown, from its establishment through 1800. The biographies fall into two main categories, landowners and residents (slave or free) of Jamestown, and public officials. Officials include “governors, members of the Council of State, and burgesses, and Native American leaders who visited Jamestown through 1699.” These collective biographies contain more than 100 Native American leaders, plus another 100 plus Africans and African Americas. Many were slaves.
Here is a sample of a short entry:
Thomas Crust: Thomas Crust came to Virginia in 1620 and on January 24, 1625, was an indentured servant living in household of John Southern in urban Jamestown (VI&A 237)
A longer sample:
John Curtis (Curtys): In August 165 John Curtis, a surveyor and resident of Lancaster County, took the required oath. Throughout the 1660s he performed surveys for county residents and began speculating in real estate, sometime generating income by leasing his land to tenants. By 1656 Curtis had commenced serving as a justice in Lancaster County’s monthly court, an office he held for many years. He made numerous court appearances as the late Abraham Moone’s administrator, and in 1657 he became a Lancaster Parish vestryman. In May 1659 Curtis was elected to the assembly and represented Lancaster County in both sessions that were held in 1660. In September 1660 he and his wife, Anne, disposed of a piece of land, and the following year he sold a large parcel in Westmoreland Count. In 1669 John Curtis obtained from the Lancaster County court a license that allowed him to keep a tavern. When applying, he noted that he lived on a major road. Curtis died intestate sometime prior to September 13, 1671, at which time Richard Robinson began serving as administrator of his estate (LEO 36; Lancaster County Deeds &c 1652-1657:253, 284; 1654-1661:141, 147; 1661-1702:382-383, 390; 1656-1661: 81, 129; Order Book 1656-1666:1; 1666-1680:1, 104, 200, 206; Northumberland County Order Book 1652-1665:315; Westmoreland County Deeds and Wills No. 1[1653-1671]:199-200).
These short biographies go on and on, for 465 pages, plus an index.
McCartney’s gained access in her research to obscure records few know about or have access to. Her research covers both public and government records, as well as private archives. Together, these records were used to create a rich and detailed description of the population in early Jamestown.
About the Author
“The author of the acclaimed Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary, Martha W. McCartney is the recipient of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s National History Award. Her prize-winning history, Jamestown: An American Legacy was published by the National Park Service in 2001. In 2010 her book Hanover County, Virginia: Nature’s Bounty and Nation’s Glory was nominated for the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Literary Award for best nonfiction work.”
Sources and Abbreviations
This fascinating volume, Jamestown People to 1800: Landowners, Public Officials, Minorities, and Native Leaders, is available from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $39.15