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Founding of Hampton, 1680



We have seen that in 1630 Col. Claiborne obtained a patent for 150 acres at the present site of Hampton. In 1680, this land had become the property of a ship captain named Thomas Jarvis, who married Elizabeth Duke. She was the daughter of Sir Edward Duke and widow of Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., who has lent his name to one of the most romantic rebellions in history. The same year (1680) the General Assembly passed an act condemning fifty acres, in each of the counties, for towns, to be centers of trade and sole places of import and export. For Elizabeth City, the area selected was a part of Captain Thomas Jarvis' property, which was vested in trustees or feoffees, and divided into half acre lots. The limitations of the act, however, were distasteful to both merchants in England and planters in Virginia, and the act was soon suspended by the government, though several persons bought lots and built houses at the new town.

In 1691, the act was revived, and the town for Eliza-

Page twenty-eight



beth City County was decreed to be built on "the west side of Hampton River, on the land of Mr. William Wilson, lately belonging unto Mr. Thomas Jarvis, deceased, the plantation where he late lived, and the place appointed by a former law and several dwelling houses and warehouses already built." Under this act the trustees or feoffees for the sale of lots were Thomas Allamby, William Marshall and Pascho Curie.

Again the limitations caused the suspension of the act, but in 1699 another act revived the law so far as it applied to the sale of lots and the soundness of their tenure.

In 1694, the trustees sold a half-acre lot for 178 pounds of tobacco to Thomas Waterson with the usual condition of building, and the same year, one of the lots, which had been previously disposed of, was transferred to a purchaser for 7 pounds sterling. It had been presumably built upon, for in 1696, when Henry Royal sold to George Walker one of the lots for 6 pds. sterling, the price was cut down from 6 pds. to 5 pds. 15 shillings, because the condition of building had not been fulfilled properly. In this year no less than five persons - John Knox, William Hudson, Thomas Skinner, John Bright and Coleman Brough - were granted licenses to keep ordinary at Hampton Town.

Twenty-six lots were soon sold, and in 1698 Hampton was a place of sufficient importance to require the appointment of a special constable. The main street was known as Queen Street. It was made the residence of the pilots for James River and the headquarters of the custom district, known as the lower District of James River. In 1695 John Minson was commissioned pilot and about the same time Peter Heyman, grandson of Sir Peter Heyman, of Summerfield, County York, England, was commissioned collector.

These were royal times for pirate vessels, which scoured the coast and rendered sea voyages very hazardous. In 1700 one of the pirates ventured within the capes and engaged in a battle with the fifth class man-of-war Shoreham. The pirate was beaten, but among the killed was Peter Heyman, the collector, who was shot down on the quarter deck of the Shoreman by the side of Col. Francis Nicholson, the governor. Heyman was buried in the churchyard at the Pembroke Farm, and a stone was placed over his grave at

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the expense of the governor. In 1710 George Luke was collector, and in 1722, Thomas Michell.

In 1704, Hampton received a visit from the celebrated preacher, George Keith, who was, it is believed, a grandson of the former minister of that name for Elizabeth City County. He was a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, a Master of Arts, and had held high position among the Quakers of Pennsylvania. Factional strife broke out among them, because of his extreme views on the doctrine of Quaker passivity, and, being finally deserted by his friends, he broke with his faith and returned to the church of England. In 1702, he was sent to America as a missionary from "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel." After spending two years in the northern colonies, where he converted many Quakers, he visited Hampton with another minister, Mr. Talbot. There is this entry in his Journal: "Mr. Talbot preached at Kirketan; we stayed there about ten days at my daughter's house at Kirketan, by James River; she is fully come off from the Quakers, and is a zealous member of the church of England, and brings up her children, so many of them as are capable through age, in the Christian religion, praised be God for it." The daughter referred to in this extract was Anne Keith, wife of George Walker, the pilot for James River, who lived on the " Strawberry Bank" near Mill Creek. She was grandmother of the celebrated Jurist and Statesman, George Wythe.

In 1705, Hampton had a visit from another prominent Pennsylvania Quaker, Thomas Story, famous for his erudition and ability as a lawyer. In his Journal may be read the following item: "On the 29th (April) we went to Kicquotan, where we had a meeting at our friend, George Walker's house, to which came Col. Brown, one of the provincial council and several commanders of ships and others of note, who were generally well satisfied with the meeting. George Walker's wife is one of George Keith's daughters and follows him in his apostacy and enmity. "

Domestic difficulties arose between George Walker and his wife, and in 1708 she appealed to the Council of State, complaining that "George Walker, her husband, violently restrained her and her children from going to church to attend the worship of God according to the established religion." After hearing both sides, the Council ordered:

Page thirty



"That she, the said Anne, ought to enjoy the free exercise of her religion, and that her husband ought not to restrain her from going to church ; and as to that part of the petition relating to the children, it not appearing of what age these children are, nor how far they are capable of choosing a religion for themselves, this board do not think proper to determine anything in that matter at this time." In this case the Quaker, whose sect preached freedom of religion and the government, which usually restricted it, seemed to change sides.

July 1, 1715, permission was granted by Alexander Spottswood, the governor, for the justices to remove their old court house and build a new one for Hampton Town, and land was purchased from Captain William Boswell for the purpose. At this time Governor Spottswood wrote the following letter:

"Williamsburgh, July the 1st, 1715.

Mr. John Holloway this Day applyed to me in Behalfe of the justices of Elizabeth City County for leave to build Their new Court House att Hampton,I Doe approve of the Removall and shall accordingly order the Sheriff to attend the Court there so soon as the House shall be fitt for the Reception of the Justices.

A. Spottswood. Recorded by order of Court.

Teste Cha. Jenings, CI. Cur.

When John Fontaine visited Hampton in 1716, it was a place of 100 houses and had the greatest business in Virginia. All the men-of-war lay before this arm of the river, and the inhabitants drove a great trade with New York and Pennsylvania.

Pirates still infested the coast and one Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, was notorious. He had his headquarters in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, from which he sailed from time to time on piratic expeditions. In 1717, Governor Spotswood sent Captain Henry Maynard from Hampton after him, with two small sloops. On November 21, a bloody battle was fought, and Blackbeard was shot down by Maynard, and fourteen of his confederates were captured. Ma>aiard returned in triumph to Hampton,

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swinging Blackbeard's head from his bowsprit. He set it up at the mouth of Hampton River, and the point is still known as Blackbeard's Point. Maynard's prisoners were tried and hanged at Williamsburg.

Among the prominent citizens of Hampton and Elizabeth City, about 1720, were Anthony Armistead, Thomas Wythe, Joshua Curie, Samuel Sweeney, Joseph Bannister, John Selden, Joseph Selden, James Ricketts, Simon Hollier, John Lowry, Thomas Tabb, John Brodie, Alexander McKenzie, Wilson Cary, James Wallace, and John Smith. The latter (John Smith) died in 1723, and his inventory is particularly rich. Among other items is the following :

"Five thousand of English brick at 12 shillings per thousand. " It appears that there were two kinds of building brick made in the colony - brick made of the size prescribed in English statute, called " English brick " and brick made according to the Dutch statute, called " Dutch brick. " Very little brick was imported into the colony, except as ballast and there is no evidence that any houses in Virginia were built of imported brick.

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