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Forts Henry and Charles



Not long after their return, a white man named Humphrey Blunt, who had strayed off to himself, was killed by some Kecoughtan Indians, near the point on James River which bears his name. To punish the murderers Sir Thomas Gates took a squad of men, and on July 9th, 1610, drove the werowance Pochins and his tribe away from their village ; and built near the shore two stockades, called Forts Henry and Charles, "a musket shot apart from one another." William Box, one of the first settlers, described these small defences as named in honor of " our most noble Prince (Henry), and his hopeful brother (Charles)." '*They stand upon a pleasant plaine, and neare a little Revilet they called Southampton River; in a wholsom aire, having plentie of Springs of sweet water; they command a great circuit of ground, containing wood, pasture and marsh, with apt places for vines, corne, and Gardens; in which Fort it is resolved, that all those that come out of England, shall be at their first landing quartered, that the wearisomnesse of the Sea may be refreshed in this pleasing part of the country." In this opinion of the attractiveness of Kecoughtan, William Strachey, Gate's Secretary concurred: "It is an ample and faire countrie indeed ****** and is a delicate and necessary seate for a citty or chief fortification. "

Southampton River, now known as Hampton River, was named in honor of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, President of the Virginia Company of London from 1620 to 1625, and his name was also given to the splendid body of water into which the rivulet entered "Southampton (Hampton) Roads." In the autumn following (1610) Delaware withdrew the guards at these two forts, and sent the men on a fruitless expedition to the falls of James River to search for gold, but after his depaurture in 1611, from Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale restored the settlement.

Fort Henry probably occupied the site of the Kecough-

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tan village that stood in a field of 100 acres on the " Strawberry Bank," having John's Creek as its eastern boundary. Its situation was thus identical with that of the present Soldiers' Home. A mile further east was Fort Charles. Each of these forts, in 1613, had fifteen soldiers, but no ordnance; and, in 1614, Captain George Webb was the principal commander of both. In the latter year, Hamor describes them as "goodly seats and much corn about them, abounding with the commodities of fish, fowle, Deere and fruits, whereby the men lived there with halfe that maintenance out of the store which in other places is allowed." In 1616, John Rolfe reported that there were at Kecoughtan twenty-one men including Captain Webb, and of the number Mr. William Mease was minister and eleven were farmers, who maintained themselves.

The year 1619 saw great changes made in the government of Virginia. Hitherto the settlers were only soldiers and martial law prevailed. Now the free laws of England were proclaimed, and to every man was assigned a certain area of land. On July 30, a general assembly met at Jamestown, according to the summons of the governor, in which William Tucker and William Capps, prominent colonists, were the representatives for Kecoughtan. Four corporations were established to include all the settlements. The region from the bay on both sides of the river, to Chuckatuck on the south side and to Skiffe's Creek on the North side constituted Elizabeth City Corporation, a name preferred by the inhabitants to the heathen name of Kecoughtan and bestowed in honor of King James' daughter Elizabeth, the Queen of Bohemia. In pursuance of the command of the London Company to set aside certain areas in each corporation for public uses, the government appropriated for Elizabeth City the land from the mouth of Hampton River to the Bay. Three thousand acres were reserved for the Company's own use; 1500 acres for the common use, and 100 acres for a glebe. Tenants were placed upon these lands for the public benefit. Of this stretch of country the portion from Hampton River to the beginning of the modern Mill Creek was called "Strawberry Bank," a name suggestive of the abundant growth of a luscious berry well known to a Virginia table ; and the portion along Mill Creek

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300 acres, was known as "Buck Roe," after a place in England of that name.

In 1620, the company sent some Frenchmen to Buck Roe to teach the colonists how to plant mulberry trees and grape vines, raise silkworms, and make wine. They were selected by John Bonnell, silkworm raiser to the King at Oakland, from Languedock in France, and among them were Anthony Bonneir, Elias La Guard', James Bonnell, Peter Arundell and David Poole.

In 1621, Capt. Thomas Newce from Newce's Town in Ireland came over as manager of the Company's lands in the different corporations, was made a member of the Virginia council, and given six hundred acres at Fort Henry for his support.

At this time one of the ministers of Elizabeth City was Jonas Stockton, son of William Stockton, parson of Barkeswell. County Warwick, England; and in May, 1621, he wrote a letter regarding the treacherous character of the Indians and the futility of any attempt to convert them till "their Priests and Ancients" were put to death. He appears to have been the earliest exponent of the doctrine that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian. " March 22, 1622 occurred the massacre at which time 346 settlers out of a total of 1240 were slaughtered; and the warning of Mr. Stockton may have served the people of Elizabeth City to good purpose, for no one was killed there.

After the first news Captain Newce called all his neighbors together at his home, which he defended with three cannon, and took measure not only for their relief, but built two houses and a "faire well of water mantled with brick" for the reception of immigrants daily expected from England ; and, forseeing the famine that must necessarily ensue, caused a large crop of corn to be planted around the fort. We are told that in all these works the captain acted the part of a sawyer, carpenter and laborer, but met with many difficulties. In the latter part of June Governor Wyatt, accompanied by his council and many other gentlemen, spent three or four days with him and ate up the crop of corn near the fort, before the ears were half grown. However, Captain Newce, sick and weak as he was, never tired of well



^ Subsequently anglicised to "Bonny".
^ Subsequently anglicised "Ellegood."

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doing; but when all was spent and the colonists had to live on crabs and oysters, he distributed among them, as he saw occasion, a little milk and rice which he still had left, and behaved with such " tenderness and care " that he obtained the reputation of being the best commander in Virginia.

September 9, 1922, his men were attacked at their labors by the Indians, which was their first assault since the massacre; and four men were slain. The Captain, though extremely sick, sallied forth, but the Indians hid in the cornfields at night and escaped without any loss. About this time Samuel Collier, who had come, as a boy, to Virginia and was very useful as Indian interpreter, was accidently killed by a sentinel; and in the general neglect of agriculture that ensued the vineyards at Buck Roe were greatly ** bruised" by the deer. Captain Newce died the next year (1623) and he was preceded to the grave by his brother Sir William Newce, who had come a very short time before as high marshal to Virginia. It was from these two Newce brothers that Newport News (Newport Newce) obtained its name, its early title being Point Hope, as appears from Smith's map of Virginia.

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