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The Strawberry Bank



When, in 1637, Fort Henry was abandoned, the field of a hundred acres in which it stood, called "Fort Field," was granted to Captain Francis Hooke, Esq., of the Royal Navy, commander at Point Comfort and one of the council of State. It was described as "lying on the Strawberry Bank beginning at a well, known by the name of Plackett well, which is upon the Creek side, which runneth up by the Gate house west, and so to a place where a house stood where one Powell lived and from there directly to a spring in the banke of the creek right against the house of one Thomas Oldis east. " A grant in 1648 to Major Richard Moryson, brother-in-law of Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, and one of Captain Hooke 's successors in command at Point Comfort, is more definite. The land is here described as "lying south upon the Main River from the mouth of a creek commonly called Hooke 's Creek alias John's Creek unto Sandy Point, bounded on the west side from the Sandy Point with a creek that parteth the land of Thomas Conier and the Glebe land from this land, bounded on the north with the land late belonging to Thomas Oldis gent, by marked trees to a tree near the bridge that leadeth to the dwelling house of said Oldis from (sic) to the mouth of said John's Creek, on the east side."

On the east of John's Creek was a tract of one hundred acres granted formerly to Captain Grayes for his personal adventure as "an ancient planter" and assigned by him in 1635 to Lieut. Thomas Purifoy, one of the council of State and a representative of the Purifoys, of Drayton, in Leicestershire; and by Purifoy, about 1667, assigned to Captain Francis Hooke. It became later the property of Thomas Oldis, a member of the House of Burgesses, who owned another tract of fifty acres adjoining easterly, which in 1622 appears to have been owned by Christopher Calthorpe, who came to Virginia that year. This last was second son of Christopher Calthorpe, Esq., of Norfolk County, England, and grandson of Sir Thomas Calthorpe and Barbara Bacon his wife. In 1691, the whole 150 acres was devised

Page nineteen



to Jacob Walker and George Walker, Jr., his brother, by-Thomas Oldis, grandson of Sir Thomas Oldis.

In the grant of Purifoy, his land is described as "lying on a small creek dividing the same from the field called Fort Henry." In the grant to Capt. Hooke in 1637, the same land is described as "situated upon the Strawberry Bank, northward upon a creek next to the Fort Field, south upon the Main River, east upon Thomas Oldis his land and north-east upon John Neale his land. "

Next to the lot, formerly Christopher Calthorpe's and afterwards Thomas Oldis, on the "Strawberry Bank," was a tract of fifty acres, leased in 1627 to Doctoris Christmas, assigned by him in 1628 to Lionel Rowleston, and assigned by Rowleston in 1630 to John Neale, merchant. At the east side of this land, on the shore about 100 poles or 500 yards east of John's Creek, was in 1648 the cedar stump of the "lookout tree," where a sentinel watched the distant capes for approaching vessels. And near by was the "round mill" after which Mill Creek was named, its earlier title being Point Comfort Creek\

In 1628, Lieut. Edward Waters, whose romantic career had begun in 1609, with the wreck of the "Sea Venture," and his discovery shortly after on the Bermuda Islands of a vast piece of ambergris worth three million dollars leased 100 acres adjoining westerly John Neale 's tract. These two tracts, making 150 acres, or 165 acres as the surveys showed, became vested in George Downes and were long known as Downes' Field. On the east side was a marsh or gut called Thomas' Creek, still to be seen to the east of "Roseland," a residence, near the town of Phoebus.

This land is more than ordinarily interesting, because of a great ejectment suit, which started in 1699. It is stated that Downes' Field being deserted vested in the Colony, and it was, thereupon, in 1642, granted to Major Richard Moryson, one of Hooke 's successors as commander of Point Comfort. A few years later the government granted to Mrs. Elizabeth Claiborne, wife of Col .William Claiborne, then treasurer of Virginia, seven hundred acres, extending along the water side four hundred poles, or two hundred chains,'



^ William and Mary College Quarterly, IX, 90. 'The chain at this period was only two rods or poles; i. e. 31 feet.

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embracing Downes' Field, and bounded on its west side by Thomas Oldis land, on its east side by Buck Roe and the land of Rev. William Wilkinson, who afterwards emigrated to Maryland and was the second Protestant minister of that province. Major Moryson's title descended to Samuel Selden, a lawyer, who came from England to Elizabeth City in 1699; and Mrs. Claiborne's right had at that time vested in Bertrand Servant, a prominent French immigrant. Suit was entered and continued for half a century involving successive claimants, including Col. Robert Beverley, James Gait, John George and other prominent citizens of Elizabeth City.

In 1622, James Nott, of Accomac, planter, patented at the mouth of Hampton River fifty acres of land, ' * bounded southerly by a creek, which parteth the same from the lands of Captain Francis West, and northerly upon the Glebe land, together with the house commonly called the Great Howse and all other howses." The purpose of Mr. Nott is expressed in the patent to be "to keep a howse of entertainment, whereby strangers and others may be well accommodated, with great ease to the inhabitants in those parts. "

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