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The Schools of Syms and Eaton



In 1670, James Ranson, of the county of Gloucester, gent., deeded to Abraham Savoy 50 acres on Old Poquoson River, "extending its breadth upon the school land (Sym's) on one side."

The schools of Syms and Eaton were undoubtedly in operation at the time when Berkeley uttered his much-quoted remark, in 1971, about free schools in Virginia.

In the oldest record book of the county now preserved (1689- '99) there are the following references to the schools of Benjamin Syms and Thomas Eaton, 19 Xber, 1692. - Whereas Mr. Ebenezer Taylor, late schoolmaster of Eaton's free-school, his time being expired & having had ye Benefitt & pquisetts thereof, it is thought reasonable yt a negroe woman belonging to ye sd school should be cloathed at ye charges of ye sd schoolmaster, she being almost naked. It is therefore ordered yt ye said Taylor doe wthin fourteen days next pride and deliver unto Mr. Henry Royall, one of ye ffeoffees, one new cotton wastcoate and pettycoate, 3 yards of good new canvis for a shift, one pare of new shoes & stockings & alsoe 3 Barrels of sound Indian Corn for ye said negroes use wth costs als exon."

Nov. 20, 1693.- "It is ordered yt Robert Crook School-master of Symmes School be allowed and paid for his charges in repairing ye school House two old cowes in lieu thereof.

May 20, 1695. - "It is ordered that a negroe Joan belonging to Eaton's free school by reason of age for ye future be free from paying Levyes and what crops she makes of Corne, Tobacco or Pulse, yt shee keepe ye same to her owne use for her maintenance. "

18 Nov. 1697. - "Mr. George Eland with consent of this court is elected Schoolmaster of Eaton's free school & he to continue in place as he shall be approved of from year to year Teaching all such children in English and grammar learnings as shall be sent to him yt are belonging to this county, and he to have all such pquisites as is belonging to ye sd schoole. "

19 June, 1699. - "Upon ye petition of William Williams wee doe hereby give, grant, possess, and confirm unto the said Williams & his heirs &c all that plantation or tract of

Page twenty-six



land whereon John Tarns lately lived, belonging to Eaton's free-school land, being part thereof, beginning from Tony Kings along ye Dam side & extending in breadth Eastward as far as the next swamp or branch of ye sd dams and soe into ye woods as far as je head lyne (the term is stated to be 21 years and the consideration that "Williams should build or cause to be built one substantial thirty-foot dwelling house, and plant one hundred apple trees at usual distances, and keep the same well trimmed and fenced, and pay yearly 200 lbs. of tobacco "unto such pson as the same in right shall belong or apptayn, and at ye expiracon of ye sd time the said Williams should deliver up the said plantation and houses tenantable.")

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