In the following, I provide the names of my ancestors who lived during the 1600 and 1700s in the Northern
Neck of Virginia. I also write on the history of the area. I try to integrate what I have learned of my Northern
Neck ancestors, their lives, into the history that I present. A primary reason for the writing below is to help
others who might be interested in family history to learn more about those folks who lived in the 1600s and
1700s in the Northern Neck and what life might have been like for them.
This family history is a continuation of previous family histories that I have written on my eight great
grandparents. You can read what I have previously written at this website: http://www.family-history-
greatgrandparents.info/. Their history included ancestors going back to early 1800s. Little was included on
ancestors prior to 1800. What I write below represents a continuation of my interest in my family history,
concentrating on the 1600 and 1700s and on the Northern Neck.
I am including in what I write below, history related to the Northern Neck that I discovered from an extensive
Internet research. I read/reviewed hundreds of websites and pdf files on the 1600s and 1700s history of the
Northern Neck area. I am trying, in presenting this history, to better understand what life might have been like
for my ancestors. One of the great benefits I have gained from researching my family history is a greater
fascination and interest in history, especially that history which my ancestors might have experienced.
In the history that is present below, I try to make comments on what life might have been like in the 1600s and
1700s related to the following topics:
1. Demographics - immigration; indentured servants, slaves, and Indians; etc.
2. Nature – the landscape; natural resources; etc.
3. Culture – people’s interests; activities; preferences; etc.
4. Property – buildings; possessions; etc.
5. Government – organizations; governance; laws; etc.
6. Industry – agriculture; technology development; professions; etc.
7. Economics – economic growth; incomes; etc.
8. Security – conflicts; tensions; crime; etc.
In the discussions I present on the above topics, I try to include references to my ancestors where such
references seem to enlighten and inform the discussion. By doing so helps me to actually think about lives
lived during the 1600s and 1700s. I also, whenever it occurs to me, comment on how I think things have
changed over time; how foundations, traditions, and customs then relate to later periods. I believe that by
making comparisons from those periods to now help to understand better the lives and times then, as well as
The tables below list my known ancestors who were born in one of the counties of the Northern Neck
(Northumberland, Lancaster, Westmoreland, Richmond, and King George); or died in one of those counties; or
lived and died in one of the counties.
The first table begins with Thomas Garner Crawley (1787-1841; born Northumberland County; died Halifax
Thomas was a grandfather of one of my eight great grandparents – Amelia B. Crawley (1859-1937). This table
shows Thomas Garner Crawley’s parents; grandparents; great grandparents; 2nd great grandparents; 3rd
great grandparents; 4th great grandparents; and 5th great grandparents and the known dates and locations of
their births and deaths.
Thomas Garner Crawley born 1787 Northumberland County died 1841 Halifax County
Parents birth death
Thomas Hull Cralle Northumberland County 1766 Halifax County 1815
Elizabeth Mary Claughton Northumberland County 1766 Halifax County 1808
John Cralle 1724 1771
Spelman Garner Northumberland County 1740 Northumberland County 1771
Richard Claughton 1730 1815
Priscilla Lewis Northumberland County 1745 1815
Thomas Cralle Northumberland County 1695 Northumberland County 1726
Hannah Kenner Northumberland County 1695 Northumberland County 1784
Parish Garner II Westmoreland County 1705 Northumberland County 1761
Frances Spelman Northumberland County 1717 Westmoreland County 1799
Richard Claughton Northumberland County 1696 Northumberland County 1773
Mary Magdalene Lampkin Northumberland County 1698 1780
John Lewis III 1714 Northumberland County 1746
Mary Foushee 1719 1771
2nd Great Grandparents
John Cralle 1728
Anne Matthew Northumberland County 1678 Northumberland County 1728
Col Rodham Kenner Northumberland County 1671 Northumberland County 1706
Hannah Fox Lancaster County 1671 Northumberland County 1717
Parish Garner Sr 1674 1718
Elizabeth Parker 1676 1718
Clement Spelman 1667 Northumberland County 1717
John Claughton Northumberland County 1659 Northumberland County 1726
Anne Pemberton Northumberland County 1665 1725
John Lewis II 1683 1735
Elizabeth Christopher 1687 1730
John Foushee Richmond County 1697 Halifax County 1773
3rd Great Grandparents
Thomas Cralle Rappahannock 1637 Northumberland County 1726
Frances Walton Somerset England 1630 Virginia 1709
Capt. Richard Kenner Oxford England 1635 Northumberland County 1692
Elizabeth Rodham 1649 1708
Capt. David Fox Lancaster County 1647 Lancaster County 1699
Hannah Ball Berkshire England 1650 Lancaster County 1694
John Garner Northumberland County 1702
Ruth Parker 1645
James Spilman Westmoreland County 1650 Westmoreland County 1715
James Claughton Jr England 1629 Richmond County 1698
Joanne Bradshaw Virginia 1628 Virginia 1689
Richard Pemberton France 1630 Northumberland 1708
Elizabeth Knight 1635 Northumberland 1670
James Foushee (Fouche) France 1669 Lancaster County 1729
Mary Sarah Cralle Richmond County 1670 Richmond County 1724
4th Great Grandparents
Robert Cralle (Crill) England 1615 Virginia 1695
Margaret Peplesham England 1615 Virginia 1650
Col William Ball III 1615 Lancaster County 1680
Hannah Atherold 1619 Lancaster County 1695
Clement Spilman Charles City County 1620 Westmoreland County 1677
James Claughton England 1590 Northumberland County 1647
John Bradshaw England 1613 Lancaster County 1655
5th Great Grandparents
Capt. Henry Spilman England 1595 Virginia 1623
Martha Metoanna Fox Virginia 1597 Virginia 1640
The next table begins with John Carter III (1689 - 1742; born Lancaster County; died Charles City County,
John was a great, great, great grandfather of one of my eight great grandparents – Charles A. Jenkins (1850-
1927). This table shows John Carter III’s parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and the known dates
and locations of their births and deaths.
John Carter III born 1689 Lancaster County Charles City County
Parents birth death
Robert Carter Lancaster County 1663 Lancaster County 1732
Judith Armistead Gloucester County, Virginia 1665 Lancaster County 1698
John Carter London England 1613 Lancaster County 1669
Sarah Ludlow Wiltshire England 1635 Lancaster County 1668
Col. John Armistead England 1630 Gloucester County 1695
William Armistead England 1610 Virginia ?
Anne Ellis England 1611 Virginia 1671
The third table begins with Sarah Sallie Champe (1740 - 1814; born King George County, Virginia; died
Albemarle County, Virginia).
Sarah was a great grandmother of one of my eight great grandparents – Charles A. Jenkins (1850-1927). This
table shows Sarah Sallie Champe’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and great, great grandparents
and the known dates and locations of their births and deaths.
Sarah Sallie Champe born 1740 King George County died 1814 Albemarle County
Parents birth death
Col John Champe King George County 1698 King George County 1763
Jane Thornton King George County 1707 King George County 1767
John Champe Sr Westmoreland County 1665 Fredericksburg 1763
Francis Marion Thornton 1682 1737
Martha Wingfield Taliaferro 1686 1740
William Champe 1644 Virginia ? 1747
Elizabeth June Pope Westmorland County 1646 Westmorland County 1675
Great, Great Grandparents
Judyth Champe England 1624 Virginia 1709
Nathaniel Pope England 1603 Westmoreland County 1660
Lucy Anne Luce Fox England 1611 Westmoreland County 1660
The fourth table begins with Frances Fielding (1698 - 1731; born King George County, Virginia; died
Gloucester County, Virginia).
Frances was a great, great, great grandparent of one of my eight great grandparents – Charles A. Jenkins
(1850-1927). This table shows Frances Fielding’s parents and grandparents and the known dates and
locations of their births and deaths.
Frances Fielding born 1698 or 1702 King George County died 1731 Gloucester County
Parents birth death
Henry Fielding 1670 1712
Mary Lane 1680 1754
John Lane Warwickshire England 1650 King & Queen County, Virginia 1710
The fifth table begins with Augustine Washington (1694 - 1743; born Westmoreland County, Virginia; died
Stafford County, Virginia).
Augustine was a great, great, great grandfather of one of my eight great grandparents – Charles A. Jenkins
(1850-1927). This table shows Augustine Washington’s parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and
the known dates and locations of their births and deaths.
Augustine Washington born 1694 Westmoreland County died 1743 Stafford County
Parents birth death
Lawrence Washington Westmoreland County 1669 Gloucester County 1698
Mildred Warner Gloucester County Whitehaven, England 1701
Col John Washington Northampton shire England 1629 Westmoreland County 1677
Anne Pope St. Mary's County MD 1639 Westmoreland County 1668
Augustine Warner II ? Gloucester County
Mildred Reade Virginia Virginia 1674
Nathaniel Pope Westmoreland County 1660
Luce Mottrom Bristol England 1620 Westmoreland County 1667
Augustine Warner I Norfolk, England 1610 Gloucester County, Virginia 1674
Mary Gwynn Gloucester County 1667 Gloucester County, Virginia 1731
The final table begins with Mary Ball (1708 - 1789; born Lancaster County, Virginia; died Fredericksburg,
Mary was a great, great grandmother of one of my eight great grandparents – Charles A. Jenkins (1850-
1927). This table shows Mary Ball’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents and the known dates and
locations of their births and deaths.
Mary Ball born 1708 Lancaster County died 1789 Fredericksburg
Parents birth death
Joseph Ball England 1649 Lancaster County 1711
Mary Bennett Johnson England Lancaster County 1721
William Ball III England 1615 Lancaster County 1680
Hannah Atherold England 1615 Lancaster County 1695
Elizabeth Broadhurst Bennett St. Mary's County MD 1641 Westmoreland County 1712
William Ball II England 1573 Lancaster County 1647
Walter Broadhurst England 1618 Westmoreland County 1658
Anne Gerrard Suffolk England 1623 Westmoreland County 1676
Introduction. My family-related history associated with the Northern Neck area begins with this section
dealing with demographics – for example, 1600 and 1700 population changes over time, immigrations and
migrations into and out of the Northern Neck, life spans, and changes related to various groups such as
Indians, indentured servants, and slaves during. European people first began living in what today is
Northumberland County in the 1640s. About a dozen families immigrated there from the Maryland colony,
across the Potomac River, likely due to religious conflicts they were having with other Maryland colony
residents. An ancestor, Walter Broadhurst (1618-1658), was the head of one of those families. Claughton,
Gerrard, Pope, and Rodham, names found in my ancestral past, were also names found in the group of settlers
from Maryland. More settlers, from other parts of the Virginia Colony and from England, quickly followed.
During the rest of the 1600s and early 1700s, separate counties (Westmoreland, Lancaster, Richmond, and
King George) were carved out of Northumberland, due to population growth (initially all of what was considered
the Northern Neck then was called Northumberland County).
Population. By the 1650s, the Northern Neck population is believed to be more than one thousand. By the
late 1700s, the population is estimated to be more than ten thousand. Today the Northern Neck population is
in the 50,000 range. By comparison, the population of the colony of Virginia (including the Northern Neck) in
the 1650s is estimated at around 15,000. The Northern Neck population growth from 1650s (population
around 1,000) to 2020 (population around 50,000) represents about a 2% compounded annual growth rate,
less than Virginia state growth rate of 3% over the same time period (from 15,000 to 8.65 million).
Information in the tables above identifying my ancestors who lived in the Northern Neck counties at some time
in the 1600s and 1700s provide the following: 15 of them were born in Northumberland County and 17 died
there; 4 were born in Lancaster County and 15 died there; 7 were born in Westmoreland County and 13 died
there; 3 were born in Richmond County and 2 died there; and 4 were born in King George County and 2 died
there. Others were born in Europe and some born or died in other Virginia counties.
During the 1600 and 1700s, the Northern Neck remained primary an agriculture region. As an agricultural
region, a lack of town development occurred. Because large tracks of land were owned by a few individuals,
the development of self-sufficient communities by farmers on their large plantations tended to suppress the
growth of towns. These communities, around the large plantations, could take on (and did) the characteristics
of small towns, and would represent the closest to towns that existed. Officials (for example, the Virginia
General Assembly) did create plans to develop Northern Neck towns (as well as towns in other parts of the
Colony), but those plans for the most part were unsuccessful.
A 1690s planned town in Lancaster County was to be called Queenstown, to be on land on the Corotoman
River owned by William Ball (1615-1680) and Hannah Ball (1615-1695). Robert Carter (1663-1732) and
Captain David Fox (1647-1699) were to administer the sale of the lots. Queenstown never came into
existence. The Balls, Carter, and Fox are some of my ancestors, shown in the tables above.
In the 1700s, towns did develop along the Rappahannock River to serve as ports supporting the shipping of
tobacco from the plantations, but those towns disappeared with the tobacco industry decline. Towns came
and went in the Northern Neck, with many towns no longer existing that once did. Even today, no Northern
Neck towns exist with more than a few thousand population, at most. The largest of these include: White Stone;
Irvington; Kilmarnock; Warsaw; Montross; and Colonial Beach.
Immigration. Most European immigrants into the Northern Neck came from England. (Some French
Huguenots immigrated to the Northern Neck; my ancestors named Cralle and Foushee are descendants of
Huguenots who immigrated to the Northern Neck.) Of the ninety-one of my ancestors in the tables above,
twenty are known to have been born in England and one in France. Of those known to be from England, most
were from the south of England. Most of these immigrants arriving from England did so in the mid-1600s. The
known locations in England that my Northern Neck ancestors came from include: Berkshire; Bristol; Hampshire;
London; Northamptonshire; Oxford; Somerset; Suffolk; and Wiltshire. This mid-1600s period corresponds with
much unrest in England due to the English civil war, which likely accounted for at least some of the immigration
from England to the Northern Neck.
Of my known Northern Neck ancestors (see tables above), the following are known to have immigrated from
Hannah Atherold (1615-1694; England)
Joseph Ball (1649-1711; England)
Hannah Ball (1650-1709; Berkshire, England)
William Ball II (1573-1647; England)
William Ball III (1615-1680; England)
John Bradshaw (1613-1655; England)
Walter Broadhurst (1618-1658; England)
John Carter (1613-1669; London, England)
James Claughton (1590-1647; England)
James Claughton, Jr. (1639-1698; England)
James Fouchee (1669-?; France)
Lucy Anne Luce Fox (1611-1660; England)
Anne Gerrard (1623-1676; Suffolk, England)
Mary Bennett Johnson (?-1721; England)
Richard Kenner (1635-1692; Oxford, England)
Sarah Ludlow (1635-1668; Wiltshire; England)
Luce Mottrom (1620-1667; Bristol;, England)
Richard Pemberton (1630-1708; France)
Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660; England)
Frances Walton (1630-1709; Somerset, England)
John Washington (1629-1677; Northamptonshire, England)
The need for larger numbers of immigrants into the Northern Neck during the 1600 and 1700s was due to such
reasons as short life spans of those living in the Northern Neck and a growing economy based on tobacco
farming. European immigration into the Northern Neck greatly declined after the first part of the 1700s. This
was due to residents and authorities less welcoming of European immigrants, lesser desire by Europeans to
immigrate in the 1700s, and to a greatly decreased need for English workers (many who came over as
indentured servants), because they were being replaced by African slaves. A number of immigrants came from
other areas of the Virginia Colony.
Migration. Being primarily an agriculture economy and the lack of town development, because of the lack of
industrial development, likely accounts, at least in some part, for the lower annual Northern Neck population
growth rate compared to the Virginia State growth rate (see above under Population for these growth rates).
Another reason would be large number of residents migrating from the Northern Neck to other parts of Virginia,
further west. Initially, in the 1600s, restrictions were in place on settlers moving westward because of treaties
with the Indians, reserving the westward lands for the Indians. But with the large families that were typical of the
1600s and 1700s, generating many male offspring that needed land to farm for their own families and that
Northern Neck land was already accounted for, it was inevitable that the Indians would lose out and migrating
settlers would gained access to the western lands. The Northern Neck also lost population after the 1760s
due to migrations back to England, and elsewhere, by those Northern Neck residents that remained loyal to
Britain during America’s war for independence.
As an example of the migration out of the Northern Neck, two of my ancestors, Thomas Hull Cralle (1766-1815)
and his wife Elizabeth Mary Claughton (1766-1808), left Northumberland County and migrated to Halifax
County, Virginia, very likely because land was available in Halifax County (that was not available in
Northumberland County). Thomas Cralle and Elizabeth Claughton’s ancestors had been living in Northern
Neck as early as the middle of the 1600s. Other Cralles and Claughtons did not migrate, continuing to live in
the Northern Neck up into modern times.
Life Spans. During the 1600s, adult life span was in the 40s. By comparison, the current life span in Virginia
is about 79 years. The low 1660s life span did not improved much in the 1700s. Forty to fifty percent of
children died by age 20 in the 1600s. Most children would lose one or more parents, leading to many orphans
and needy children Epidemics were common, caused by many diseases. Epidemics increased in the 1700s
with the increased imports of Africans as slaves. Emerging local governments still lacking in necessary
resources created large gaps in caring for the needy that were filled by churches, much more than is the case
in later centuries, where governments are the largest providers of such services. New immigrant arrivals often
had difficulties in coping with the challenges leading to high death rates among them.
Information from my ancestor table above provides that the average life span for my ancestors who lived
sometime during the 1600s and 1700s in the Northern Neck was 56. This 56-year life span is somewhat higher
than “in the 40s”, which is believed to have been the life span of all residents in the Northern Neck (see
paragraph above). This higher life span might suggest that those ancestors of mine were somewhat better off
than the average person, and therefore had better health.
Deaths. The frequent deaths, funerals, and burials seem to have an impact different than what would be
experienced today. Funerals were often all-day affairs held in the home and being important social events.
Guns were often fired as part of the funeral event (guns were prominent, every family likely owning then). Such
firing likely had a meaning that might not be will understood today. Burials were often on land owned by the
grieving, in specially prepared and kept areas, and in plots following a prescribed plan. Because doctors were
very sparse, a coroner, an important position then in ways not the same today, fill the role that might be
expected of doctors today.
Indians. Initially in the 1640s when the first European settlers came to the Northern Neck, apparently peaceful
relations mostly existed between the Indians and the settlers. The settlers were able to trade for badly needed
corn and other food stuffs to tie them over during difficult periods. The major disputes between the settlers and
Indians was over land ownership, some of which were settled by the county courts. Unfortunately, the Indians
seem to have been greatly mismatched going up against the Europeans in terms of negotiating and obtaining
value for what they gave up. For example, the Indians would trade corn to the settlers, badly needed by the
settlers for survival, to obtain such things as seashell necklaces and pieces of metals that would improve their
status with other Indians. The Indians did not seem to recognize that the Europeans had technologies (e.g.,
tools) and management skills (e.g., in agriculture) that could greatly advance the Indians welfare, and which
they should try to acquire.
A trading post was established in the 1640s by a Col. John Mottram (1610-1655) in the area where the first
Europeans settled in the Northern Neck (see above, under Introduction). The trading post likely traded with the
Indians. One of my ancestors, Luce Mottram (1620-1667), was the wife of another ancestor, Nathaniel Pope
(1620-1660), and they lived in the area of the trading post. Luce and Nathaniel are believed to have married in
1638. Both Luce and Nathaniel were born in England and died in Westmoreland County, not far from Col. John
Mottram’s trading post. Luce’s father was believed to be a William Mottram and her mother Eleanor Upton.
Luce’s relationship to Col. John Mottram is not known but very likely they were related. Perhaps John was Luce’
s uncle; William being John’s brother.
Views are that at least eight Indian tribes lived in the Northern Neck area in the early 1600s, totaling about
2,000 Indians. Many tribes lived along the Rappahannock River. By the start of the 1700s very few Indians
remained in the Northern Neck. The Indian culture and the things they valued were fundamentally different from
the English, and over the long-term that culture had no chance of countering English growth and expansion
desires and the English aggressiveness (available land and its ownership was the principle reason for the
English interest in the Virginia colony). The Indians were unable to successfully acclimate to English ways.
Today, in 2020, more Indians live in the Northern Neck area than at the start of the 1700s. Eleven Indian tribes
are recognized by the State of Virginia for special State rights and considerations. Two of these are in, or
adjacent, to the Northern Neck. The Rappahannock Tribe, whose Tribal Center is near the Rappahannock
River, has about 500 members on its tribal roll. The Patawomeck Tribe, located in Stafford County, has
approximately 2,300 members, 80% of whom live within ten miles of their historic Patawomeck Village.
Indentured Servants. The Northern Neck tobacco farmers of the 1600s needed large numbers of workers.
This seems to have led to the use of a system known as the indentured servant system, developed to provide
the needed workers. The system consisted of individuals in England agreeing to serve for 5 to 7 years in the
Virginia colony in return for free passage to the colony and signing a contract outlining the responsibilities that
the farmer and the indentured servant had to one another. At the end of the 5 to 7 years, the indentured
servant was free of obligations to the farmer and in many cases would receive some acres of land. Indentured
servants are believed to represent as much as 75% of the Northern Neck population in the 1600s.
The number of indentured servants coming to the Northern Neck was the highest in the middle 1600s. This is
likely due to the political problems in England at that time (e.g., the English Civil War), limiting opportunities for
many or threat of arrest to others. During the first few years of the 1700s, indentured servants coming to the
Northern Neck fell as the number of African slaves purchased by Northern Neck farmers started increasing,
driving down the need for indentured servants. Also opportunities in England probably greatly improved in the
early 1700s compared to the 1600s.
Although indentured servant numbers decreased in the early 1700s, the numbers rose again later in the
1700s, as England used their Virginia Colony as a dumping ground for their prison populations, a practice not
well-liked in the Colony.
More indentured servants came to the Northern Neck than other areas of the Virginia Colony, as tobacco
farming was more successful in the Northern Neck. Many of the indentured servants had needed skills such as
carpentry, blacksmithing, and milling These better-skilled indentured servants would be treated better and
eventually some of them will buy land in the Northern Neck and serve as the community of skilled craftsmen
(carpenters, smiths, tailors, etc.) that would be needed in any growing economy. Many of the craftsmen likely
migrated from the Northern Neck, so that the Northern Neck served as a resource for economic growth in other
parts of Virginia, and even further west.
Ancestors listed in the tables above who brought indentured servants to the Northern Neck include:
Walter Broadhurst (1618-1658)
John Carter (1613-1669)
James Claughton (1629-1698)
David Fox (1650-1702)
Rodham Kenner (1689-1710)
Thomas Matthew (1630-1703)
Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660)
John Washington (1631-1677)
Note that these ancestors lived in the 1600s when the number of indentured servants coming to the Northern
Neck was the highest. The indentured servant program seems to have been successful government policy.
Ancestors listed in the tables above believed to have come to the Northern Neck as indentured servants are:
John Garner (1634-1702)
Mary Bennett Johnson (1650s?-1721)
Another group of workers in the 1600s were orphan children, of which there were many due to the high death
rates of parents. Many of these children were incorporated into an “apprentice” system, receiving upkeep,
providing services, and learning skills.
African Slaves. A few Africans were in the Northern Neck as slaves early, not long after the first European
settlers in 1640s. By the 1720s, 20% of the Northern Neck population are believed to be African slaves and by
1750, 30 to 40%. During the 1600s, some Indians were enslaved.
Initially, African slaves could more easily be freed, being treated more like indentured servants. Those who
converted to Christianity could be freed. But by the late 1600s, the African slave status changed for the worst.
Children were considered slaves if their mother was a slave even if the father was white. Converting to
Christianity was no longer allowed as a reason for freedom and slaves were not be taught to read. Slaves
were viewed more of a threat, than in earlier periods, to rebel and cause harm, so harsher conditions likely
existed for many.
Some African slaves had advanced skills, e.g., as blacksmiths, and provided income for the owners when the
owners offered blacksmithing services for a fee. Slave class distinctions existed, e.g., those with more skill and
value to the owner enjoyed a better life. Most farmers in the Northern Neck owned at least one or two slaves.
During the American war for independence, the British encouraged slaves to defect to their side, often being
successful. African slaves were probably less expensive for the tobacco farmers than indentured servants.
Both the indentured servants and the African slaves were instrumental to the economic success of the Northern
Neck tobacco farmer.
Records show that in Lancaster County in 1716 there were 200 slave owners, with 165 of them owning 1 to 4
slaves, and four owing greater than 20 slaves. These four were: William Ball – 22; Robert Carter – 123;
Madam Fox – 23; and William Fox – 25. Robert Carter is on my ancestor list above and Ball and Fox are
Lancaster County ancestor names.
During the 1700s, a small percentage of Africans were not enslaved. For example, in 1750 about 145 Africans
in Lancaster County were “free”.
Introduction. The Northern Neck is surrounded by two rivers, the Potomac on the north and the
Rappahannock on the south, and at the eastern tip by the Chesapeake Bay. The Northern Neck is a
peninsula. No spot on the peninsula is more than ten miles from one of the two rivers. In this section, I will try
to provide assessments of the Northern Neck natural characteristics and how those characteristics might have
influenced Northern Neck development and the lives of the citizens who lived there during the 1600s and 1700s.
Forests. When the first European settlers first came upon the Northern Neck, they found a land that was
probably greater than 90% covered with thick tree growth. During the 1600s and 1700s, trees was perhaps the
Northern Neck greatest natural resource, in addition to the land with an ability to support a strong agriculture
economy and the waters that surround the Northern Neck, providing great seafood productivity. What forest
clearage the settlers found was done by the Indians, for the Indian needs. There was a wide variety of trees in
the forest, with pine, oak, and American chestnut predominating. This large forest coverage was likely the
cause for early settlers (those in the 1600s) to live mostly along the two major rivers, the Potomac and
Rappahannock, and the many smaller rivers that crisscross the peninsula. Few 1600s settlers would venture
deep into the forests to set up home sites. By the later part of the 1700s, much of the forests had been
The forests would become an important economic resource as the trees were of excellent quality for
shipbuilding. Shipbuilding become an active industry in support of the great amount of tobacco that would be
needed to export to England, and elsewhere, and to serve the transportation needs of the residents, who
primarily used the waterways to travel about. Trees were the largest export to England until tobacco took over
as the 1700s approached.
Land. Northern Neck soil is sandy with few stones and rocks, flat and supporting of tobacco growing and later
of grains. As the settlers increased their tobacco growing (they eventually would be the largest Virginia
exporter of tobacco to England in the 1700s), forest clearing became a major occupation, needing lots of labor,
which supported the need for more and more indentured servants and African slaves. Visitors in the late
1600s and 1700s would see cleared land populated with tree stumps, as the settlers copied the Indian practice
of leaving the stumps alone (saving on labor), planting and growing around the stumps. Unfortunately, the soil
would become badly damaged by the over-growing of tobacco, which would impact Northern Neck economics.
Rivers. The Northern Neck has many rivers crisscrossing the peninsula with many being Indian names such
as: Chickacoan; Nomini; Yeocomico; Wicomico; Corrotoman; and Tutosky. The rivers served for
transportation and often as property lines. Settlers in the 1600s were shown by Indians how to build and use
canoes. Later specially-designed flat-bottom boats were built for river travel. Also dozens of creeks and
coves along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers (these rivers also Indian names) served especially well as
locations for wharfs and other facilities useful for loading and unloading ships with the tobacco and other goods
exported to England and elsewhere and unloading the English import goods that settlers purchased and
depended upon. The Northern Neck has over 1,000 miles of shoreline. In the 1700s, visitors would see
dozens of boats and ships of many sizes and purposes on these rivers, creeks, and coves; many more than
would be seen today. The use of these rivers, creeks, and coves likely provided a much different perspective
to these natural resources and to life compared to today.
One of my ancestors, Robert Carter (1663-1732) (see tables above), had his plantation on the Corrotoman
River (that flows into the Rappahannock). Carter was a huge tobacco exporter to England and certainly would
have used the river extensively for loading and unloading goods. Another ancestor, Nathaniel Pope (1603-
1660), lived on what today is called Pope’s Creek, where he had a wharf and warehouse. Pope’s death date
suggests that English trade began early in the 1600s.
Many creeks along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers are name after a prominent landowner farmer who
lived along the creek. Creek names, with ancestor names in the tables above, include:
Pope's Creek Westmoreland County
Claughton's Creek Northumberland County
Carter's Creek Lancaster County
Garner's Creek Northumberland County
Taliaferro's Creek Rappahannock River
Weather. Records indicate that the Northern Neck in the middle 1600s experienced extremely cold weather
causing many rivers to freeze over, with ships captured in the ice. Also, 1780 was reported to be an extremely
cold winter, colder than anyone could remember and with freezing rivers. Hurricanes and hot, humid summer
days occurred then as they do today, but perhaps then not as hot and hurricanes less frequent and not as
strong. The point is that the weather could be severe then as it can be today. The difference is the effects on
the people were much, much more severe than today. They simple did not have the building construction, the
heating systems, the air conditioning, and other developments that protect us today from extreme weather.
This likely caused their perspectives to be much different, compared to today, and in ways we probably have a
difficult time understanding.
Wild Life. The waterways around and through the Northern Neck were abundant with seafood. Large
amounts of fish (many types), oysters, and crabs were present upon which the Indians depended, and the
settlers would also. Wolves, cougars, bobcats, and foxes were present in noticeable populations, especially
wolves. Wolves were of such a problem killing the settlers’ livestock (and attacking people) that a wolf bounty
was enacted in the 1600s, essentially wiping out the wolf population. Recently, wolf protections have resulted
in an increased wolf population, an indication of differences in how people then and now view animals. Beavers
were also present in the 1600s in sufficient numbers that the Indians conducted a beaver fur trade with the
Introduction. In this section, I will attempt to provide some cultural characteristics of Northern Neck life in the
1600s and 1700s, to include subjects such as: marriage; religion; education; entertainment; travel; and other
practices. By doing this, I am seeking a greater understanding of how life might have been then, a better
understanding of my Northern Neck ancestors’ lives who lived during the 1600s and 1700s, and how those
times and lives compare with what I am experiencing today.
Class Structure. The Northern Neck was a very hierarchical society in the 1700s, less so in the 1600s. Six
general levels of society emerged during the 1700s: a first level of large land holders; a second level of
yeoman planters, higher-level land owners, and higher-level service providers; a third level of ordinary
planters, lower-level land owners, and lower-level service providers; a fourth level of more valued indented
servants, tenant farmers; a fifth level of less valued indented servants, laborers; and the sixth level, African
slaves. Class separation was much based on land ownership – the primary means to income and wealth. The
society both in the 1600s and 1700s was very patriarchal, with husbands and men dominating. Relationships
between women were based on their husbands’ positions.
In the first level of large land owners, positions men held in the community were very important – such positions
as being on the church vestries, officer rank in the local militia, and positions in the county government.
Competition between men in this group, especially younger men, was likely intense, with pecking orders being
established. Interactions with England were very important, with many of the young sent to England for
education. Cultural trends in England greatly influenced the large landholder class. Beginning in the early
1700s, members of this class made an especial effort to acquire possessions (houses and other assets) that
would distinguish them from other class levels.
Prior to the 1720s, the upper large landholder first level did not stand out as much, there was less distinction
between the levels. The 1720s represented a noticeable shift between the levels when the upper level became
much more interested in distinguishing itself with possessions and positions. This is possibly a result of greater
incomes, economic success, and wealth generation, beginning in the 1720s. Such provides the initiative and
wherewithal for such a cultural shift to happen. And with the economic shift possibly comes a difference in how
the separated groups view themselves and the world.
The yeomen planter, higher-level land owner, and higher-level service provider (the second level) likely had
similar views and aspirations as the larger land owner level but frustrated by a limitation of capacity (resources)
to act accordingly.
The third level of ordinary planters, lower-level land owners, and lower-level service providers likely was
primarily concerned with family welfare and making the most of, and not losing, the opportunities that they had.
In the tenant farmer, more-valuable indentured servant level (fourth level) and the less-valuable indentured
servant (fifth level), a primary concern was likely what was to become of them after they completed their
indentured servant period. How they thought about this probably differed and related to the skills that they had
(skills that mostly accounted for the separation of these two classes).
In the African slave level (sixth level), a primary concern was likely the present - having enough to eat,
avoiding sickness and disease, surviving. They likely had little concerns with the world beyond their daily lives,
becoming free, and avoiding suffering.
With respect to the class level differences in the 1700s, the amount of wealth and the ability to generate wealth
is a primary factor for the differences. That seems to be also the case today. How one views the world is
related to the class level one is in, which correlates with wealth-generating capacities.
I had Northern Neck ancestors in the large land owner level (first level), e.g., Robert Carter (1663-1732). I
suspect that John Cralle (1724-1771) and Richard Claughton (1730-1771) were in the yeoman planter, lower-
level land owner level (second level). I am very interested in what levels other ancestors might have been in.
Based on my analysis (in Section 9, Ancestors Living in the Northern Neck in the 1600s and 1700s – Ball,
Carter, Champe, Claughton, Cralle, Garner, and Washington, below) of information I have on seven of my male
ancestor names, here are the class levels I assign to those seven:
ancestor family name class level
Marriage. Marriage culture (traditions) were much different than today. Most women were married by age 20.
Intra-family marriages were common, e.g., first cousins marrying first cousins; widowed men and women
marrying those from their deceased husband or wife families. Most individuals did not remain unmarried long.
The culture best supported those who were married. Because of the frequency of women dying at child birth,
leaving widowers with children, there were many widowers anxious to remarry. For most women, the primary
purpose in life was to be a wife, to be married, and to have children. Having children was a primary purpose of
marriage. Expectations to marry within one’s class level were higher than today. Those who married usually
lived close to one another before marriage (except for the first-class level, and maybe to a certain extinct the
second-class level), unlike today. Women had very set roles to play in the marriage. Divorce and separation
were low. Widowed women were badly treated under the law with respect to inheriting their deceased husbands
Requirements for two to marry were different compared to today. Written consent of the parents were needed
if those marrying were less than 21 years. Before 1780, supposedly marriage could only be performed by
ministers of the Church of England. In the 1600s and early 1700s, widows usually did not remain single long,
since men greatly out-numbered women and the women needed security. (In the later 1700s, the male-female
ratio became more balanced.)
Marriages were usually big social events, even bigger than now (for most marriages). Celebrations at the
bride’s parents house might last more than a day. Marriages were usually held in churches, a tradition that
seems to continue to today, even when many of those getting married in a church do not ever attend church
(unlike in the 1600s and 1700s).
Several marriages to Indians occurred in the 1600s (until 1691, when a Virginia law prohibited such
marriages). I believe there is good possibility in my ancestor past of a white male marrying an Indian woman .
One of my ancestors (see tables above) was Spelman Garner (1740-1771).
Spelman Garner (1740-1771) was born and died in Northumberland County and her mother was Frances
Spelman (1717-1799); born in Northumberland County and died in Westmoreland County, Virginia. My
research discovered what I believed could be a possibility that Frances Spelman is a descendant of Captain
Henry Spilman (1598-1623; born Congham, England; died in Virginia). The spellings of the last names would
be one indication of a connection. Henry Spilman is of interest historically because of his involvement in the
settlement of Jamestown and his interactions with various Indian tribes that Jamestown residents and other
settlers interacted with. He wrote about his Indian experiences; a writing that survives and which have been of
historical importance in better understanding Jamestown and the first English settlers in the Virginia Colony.
Spilman interactions with various Indian tribes allowed him to learn some of the Algonquian language, giving
him unique experiences and legitimacy in his Indian interactions. A belief exists that he married an Indian
woman and had a son. According to at least one history, while Henry Spilman was associated with Jamestown,
hostilities broke out between the Jamestown settlers and the Indians. Spilman was able to survive this, while
many Jamestown settlers did not, and he eventually ended up in northern Virginia (the Northern Neck area),
where he is believed to have died in 1623.
Records indicate that a Clement Spilman (1620-1677) was born in Charles City County, Virginia, and died in
Westmoreland County, Virginia. Charles City County is just west of Jamestown and Westmoreland is in the
Northern Neck. Was Clement Spilman Captain Henry Spilman’s son? His birth date, 1620, would fit the
possibility of being Henry Spilman’s son. His name would also. That apparently he was born in Charles
County, Virginia, near where Henry Spilman might have been in 1620 and where Henry had opportunity to have
a child (with an Indian woman); and that Clement dies in Westmoreland County, a part of the Northern Neck,
where Henry Spilman is believed to have died, are also suggestive that Clement might have been Henry’s son.
Was Clement Spilman (1620-1677) the son of Capt. Henry Spilman and an Indian bride? I believe it is a
possibility. Frances Spelman (1717-1799) is believed to be descended from Clement Spilman (1620-1677).
Two of my great, great grandparents ((Rosalie O. Carter (1818-1853) and Richard H. Crawley (1820-1865))
trace their lineage back through the following marriages of Northern Neck residents in the 1600s and 1700s:
Ancestor Marriages in the Northern Neck During the 1600s and 1700s
male female marriage date
Ball, Joseph (1649-1711) Johnson, Mary Bennett (1650s?-1721) 1665
Ball, William (1615-1680) Atherold, Hannah (1615-1695) 1638
Carter, John (1613-1669) Ludlow, Sarah (1665-1668) 1660
Carter, John III (1689-1742) Hill, Elizabeth (1703-1773) 1723
Carter, Robert (1663-1732) Armistead, Judith (1665-1698) 1678
Champe, John (1698-1763) Thornton, Jane (1707-1767) 1720
Champe, John Sr. (1670-1763) ? 1700
Champe, William (1644-1747) Pope, Elizabeth Jane (1646-1675) 1660
Claughton, John (1659-1726) Pemberton, Ann (1665-1725) 1680
Claughton, Richard (1696-1773) Lampkin, Mary (1698-1780)) 1720
Claughton, Richard II (1730-1815) Lewis, Priscilla (1745-1815) 1774
Cralle, John (?-1728) Matthew, Anne (1678-1728) 1700
Cralle, John (1724-1771) Garner, Spelman (1740-1771) 1759
Cralle, Thomas (1695-1726) Kenner, Hannah (1695-1784) 1720
Cralle, Thomas Hall (1766-1815) Claughton, Elizabeth (1766-1808) 1780
Crawley, Thomas Garner (1787-1841) Brandon, Nancy Ann (1790-1858) 1806
Garner, John (1634-1702) Keene, Susanna (?-1716) 1660
Garner, Parish (1705-1761) Spelman, Frances (1717-1799) 1730
Garner, Richard (1594-1643) Layce, Katharn (1604-1635) 1620
Washington, Augustine (1694-1743) Ball, Mary (1708-1789) 1731
Washington, John (1631-1677) Pope, Anne (1639-1668) 1658
Washington, Lawrence (1659-1698) Warner, Mildred (? -1701) 1686
In Section 9, Ancestors Living in the Northern Neck in the 1600s and 1700s – Ball, Carter, Champe, Claughton,
Cralle, Garner, and Washington, I will provide details related to the males and their family names in the table
above as well as some of the females and their family names in the above table.
It is interesting that in the above Ancestors Marriages table there are seven male family names but 21 family
names. It seems to me that a family lineage has a much less genetic composition diversity with respect to the
males than the genetic diversity provided by the females. In other works, it is the female that provides the
greatest genetic diversity to the family lineage genetic composition. In other words, the males pass on similar
genes to the sons, but wives bring distinct genes to those sons. Providing an increased diversity may be a
positive contribution; the lack of such diversity might lead to negative consequences.
Religion. Religion had a great effect on the culture in the Northern Neck in the 1600s and 1700s. Church
attendance was higher than today. Estimates are that attendance was 75%, or more, of the population. In
2014, regular church attendance in Virginia was estimated to be 40 to 50% of the population. Virginia’s church
attendance percentages in 2014 rank higher than many other states, possibly a result of Virginia’s high church
attendance in the 1600s and 1700s (assuming all of the Virginia Colony had similar attendance percentages to
the Northern Neck).
Churches were the primary care givers for the poor, the sick, the orphans, and others in need, unlike today
when governments play the larger role. During the 1700s, the churches in the Northern Neck (as well as the
Virginia Colony government) were very intolerant of non-Christian perspectives. Non-Christians were
prohibited from holding government office. Also, explanations for any tragedies, sicknesses, and turmoil being
experienced by people were attributed to the “will of God”, a religious perspective at the time. These attitudes
began to change in the second half of the 1700s, correlating with more “educated” people and a greater
pursuit of learning.
I believe it is not a coincidence that the changes in the second half of the 1700s is happening at the same time
that the so-called “industrial revolution” is beginning to place in England. In both locations, an important
contributing factor is a more “educated” people and a greater pursuit of learning. In both places, there seems
to be an “intellectual awaking”, corresponding with the beginning of progressive acts and changes taking place.
For most of the 1600s and 1700s, the Church of England (the Anglican Church) was the “official” church, the
church of government. Several Church of England parishes existed during the 1600s, and later, such as:
Boutracy; Chickacoan; Fairfield; Lee; Nomini; St. Stephen’s; and Wicomico. I believe these parishes would, in
their care for the poor, orphans, and the needy, as well as a meeting place for the more prominent local
citizens, would serve as the area’s “first government structure and process”. These parishes will led to the
establishment of wider county government, taking over the roles that the parishes played.
The Virginia Anglican Church depended much less on the established ways of doing things in England, e.g., a
hierarchical government of bishops, archbishops, etc. The Northern Neck Anglican Church possibly was more
depended on secular leadership and a secular vestry (serving as a government-like body). This secular
experience possibly had a “cultural” influence on evolving views in the later 1700s on attitudes toward individual
freedoms and how the governed was to be governed. Northern Neck individuals, who came up under this
culture, did not have an inconsequential input to such matters in the formation of the United States Government.
The top-two class levels – the large land owners and the yeoman farmers – controlled the church
administration – choosing pastors, handling property affairs, disbursing charity, etc. Qualified pastors were in
short supply, as qualified pastors did not immigrate from England to the Northern Neck (and the Virginia
Colony) in sufficient quantities to meet the demand for qualified pastors. (One of the initiatives for starting a
school - to become William and Mary College in Williamsburg, then the Virginia Colony capital - was to train
qualified pastors, who were in high demand.)
Competition to the Anglican Church sprang up in the middle 1700s, when “separatist” groups, e.g., Baptists,
Methodists, and Presbyterians, were meeting. This was occurring during a period that became known as “The
Great Awakening”. A motivation for this movement and the growth of the “separatists” churches was apathy
and disengagement of the lower-class levels with the Anglican Church and its government affiliation. This
apathy and disengagement corresponded with the lower-class levels’ feelings about the dominance of the
upper classes, both in the churches and in government. Messages in the separatists churches were of a
different character than in the Anglican churches. This had an effect on Northern Neck culture. These
separatist groups were active in recruiting new numbers, likely an explanation for their success. By the 1780s,
Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches existed in the Northern Neck.
I think that what was happening in the middle 1700s, centered in religious life, and referred to as “The Great
Awakening”, could be related to changes later in the 1700s (i.e., an intellectual awaking, discussed in a
paragraph above). Example of such changes might be a greater tolerance for non-Christian views. I also feel
that these “cultural” changes are tied into how colonists reacted in the later 1700s to their interactions with
England and ultimately their pursuit of independence from England.
After the War of Independence in the 1770s and 1780s, the Anglican Church would cease to be an active
church in America, and many of the Anglican Church communities ceased to exist and their church buildings
stopped being maintained. Not until the early 1800s, when the Episcopal Church of America emerges, would
the assets and many of the practices of the defunct Anglican Church be acquired and used.
At least two of my ancestors were active in Northern Neck church affairs. John Cralle (1724-1778), as a
Baptist, was a strong proponent of the separation of the church from state affairs. And Robert Carter (1663-
1732) gave land and money for the construction (in 1735) of Christ Church, an Anglican Church, which still
stands and used in Lancaster County.
Education. In the 1600s and 1700s, education, and obtaining one, was very much up to individuals and the
families to which they belong. Few, if any, schools existed in most places. The larger and more wealthy
landowners would send their children to England for schooling. Also these families would hire tutors, usually
from Europe, to live in their homes as teachers. Reports indicate that in the late 1600s some individuals paid
for “free schools” in the Northern Neck, providing reading and writing education. And such activities might have
continued, probably haphazardly, into the 1700s, but probably on a small scale. Book possession was likely
not large, although the wealthier landowners often had dozens of books. Also, interesting records show that
the immigrants from Maryland to the Northern Neck in the 1640s had many books. (See the above
Demographic Section and the below Government Section for more on these 1640s immigrants.)
The first public schools in the Northern Neck started appearing in the late 1800s. Today the Virginia State
Community System operates three sites in the Northern Neck where students can take college courses.
One of my ancestors, Robert Carter (1663-1732), reportedly had one of the larger libraries in the Virginia
Colony, with dozens of books. His book subjects included: religion; history; law; medicine, and physics.
Language. Dropping into the 1600s and 1700s in the Northern Neck, one would hear speech and language
much different than what one hears today. In many cases, understanding what one hears would be difficult.
Accents and pronouncements would be different. Many residents would be speaking with accents, including
those they came with when they immigrated. Jargon and slang existed that would not be recognized by the
modern hearer. Many words and terms were used that are not used today, not just in common, everyday
communications, but in specialized areas such as medicine, farming, and construction. The written document
would be difficult to read with grammar, spelling, alphabetic uses (e.g., f for s), great use of unrecognizable
abbreviations, and other practices much different than today.
Another difference, somewhat related to language, was the way in which families would name their children.
Names were frequently used over and over again. And often families would use the names of previous
ancestors in the naming of their children. One of my ancestors’ last name was Pemberton, and a subsequent
Pemberton offspring’s first name became Pemberton. Many families would use a few males first names over
and over as first names. This approach to naming children is done some today, but I suspect, based on my
1600s and 1700s genealogical research experience, not as frequently today as then.
Food and Drink. Another area where differences exist in the 1600s and 1700s, compared to today, is in food
and drink consumption. More meats were eaten at breakfast then and chocolate was frequently eaten at
breakfast. Meats slaughtered in hot weather could not be salted before spoilage, and therefore less meat was
eaten in the summer. Individuals preparing alcoholic fruit beverages (with fruit from orchids owned by the
individuals) was common. Alcoholic consumption was important in the 1600s and 1700s and perhaps for
culturally different reasons compared to today. Food security and variety was much less then than now.
Seafood, such as trout and oysters, because they were plentiful in the Northern Neck, probably were more
frequently consumed, since other foods were less plentiful. Rum and beer was popular.
Kitchen preparation of food was much different, more difficult, with stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, and
modern utensils not available. Cooking over open fires and not being able to refrigerate foods were huge
differences. Much more time was spent in food preparation then now. Meats had to be salted for preservation,
changing meat eating habits. Eating utensils were different in many ways. Spoons were more commonly used
as the principle eating utensil, compared to forks (if spoons were used, as eating with finders and hands
occurred, especially in the 1600s). Drinking vessels were shared in the 1600s, less so in the 1700s. Before
the 1770s, pottery and porcelain was rarely used, but rather pewter. Availability of many food preparation
items, today common, were nonexistent then. Items available did improve over time, with the late 1700s being
much different than the 1600s.
The larger, richer landowners had certain rituals at meals, such as toasts. Many imported large amounts of
wine from Europe and considered wine drinking as an important act distinguishing them from others in society.
The well-to-do began to acquire sets of glasses, plates, and utensils in the 1720s.
In an archaeological excavation of an ancestor plantation house (Robert Carter; 1663-1732), remains of over
1,000 bottles of wine were found.
Clothes and Fashions. Clothes and their fashions were different in the 1600s and 1700s compared to
today. In clothes worn on formal occasions, clothing was less revealing of the body – likely to fully covering and
concealing of the body – whereas today clothing attempts more to accentuate the body. Much more fabric was
used then by individuals, but there was less choice of fabric materials. Getting dress took a longer amount of
time. What one wore was met to portray status, to project a class image. Ordinary, non-formal clothing, usually
made of cotton, did not vary much, and was not particularly noteworthy.
Hats of various sizes, including wide brim, were commonly worn both by women and men, and men wore wigs
on formal occasions. Men wore knee-length stockings, with pants stopping at the knee. Shoes and belts
would have buckles. Swords would be worn on special occasions for ornamental reasons. Cut lace and
cravats were worn around the neck. Women wore full-length dresses. Use of lots of color was considered to
enhance one’s appearance.
In the late 1600s and early 1700s, fashions were mostly influenced by England and France, with France
especially influencing women fashions. Fashion did change over time, based on many factors. Towards the
later 1700s, utility, simplicity, and economy of clothing began to come into vogue. Clothing specialists were
recruited from England by the rich landowners to help clothing wardrobes. The textile industrial revolution in
the late 1700s had a great influence on clothing and its fashion.
Entertainment and Socializing. Entertainment, relaxation, and socializing included dances (balls), horse
racing, card games, backgammon, billiards, pipe smoking, attending plays, fox hunting, and boxing. Because
of the great amount of time needed for work and survival, relaxation periods were special periods, highly
valued, and looked forward to.
Dancing (presumably in the English country style) would take places at weddings. Violin was usually one of
the instruments used for music. Balls were held. There were individuals who taught dancing and played music
for fees, some of whom travel from area to area. One such traveling dancing teacher was a Charles Stagg,
who frequently taught ancestor Robert Carter’s (1663-1732) children dancing. Being able to dance was
considered an important skill to have. Also important skills were card playing, fiddle playing, and boxing.
Horse racing was quite popular among the richer landowners. Great pride was associated with quality horse
ownership and winning races. Betting took place. At least three racing tracks were maintained in the Northern
Neck in the 1600s and early 1700s: at Coan; Yeocomico; and Willoughby’s Oldfield. A frequent race was
between two horses for a quarter of a mile. The horse owner often was the rider. Horses, which served as
status symbols, and horse racing were important socializing activities.
Pipe smoking was a frequent pastime, enjoying more popularity then than today. It reflected a culture unique to
its times. Pipe sizes, materials, and designs varied over time and were not used for long periods before being
discarded. Archaeological digs have discovered many sites with discarded pipes and archaeologists and
historians have used pipe characteristics to pinpoint dates associated with finds.
Plays were presented, probably more frequently later in the 1700s. Fox hunting was popular in the 1700s
among the richer land owners. George Washington, the son of one of my ancestors, Mary Ball (1708-1789),
listed in the tables above, frequently fox hunted. Boxing was known to take place in the 1600s. Because of
the absence of good lighting at night, with only candles, entertainment and socializing were limited during the
night hours. Churches were also important opportunities for socializing.
Examined probated will records from the 1700s have discovered references to items labeled as important for
entertaining guests, such as tea cups. This suggests that having tea with guests was an important social
Having a portrait painted was a frequent activity of the richer landowners. Itinerate painters would make the
rounds to do the paintings. Such paintings are often the only likenesses we have of the subjects. Being able
to see a portrait of oneself probably represented an experience to those in the 1700s that is unimaginable to
us in the 2000s, where pictures of ourselves have become ubiquitous. John Wollaston was an English painter
who was active in the middle 1700s as a portrait painter in the Northern Neck. My Northern Neck ancestors in
the tables above who had portraits painted include: Robert Carter (1663-1762); Judith Armistead Carter (1665-
1698); John Carter III (1689-1742); and Mary Ball (1708-1789).
Travel Travel across the Northern Neck was by horse (and in very short distances by foot). Indian paths
from the earlier 1600s might have served as the initial roads. It is believed that 20 to 30 miles on horseback
was the average day’s travel. This met that traveling from one end of the Northern Neck to the other (a
distance of about 75 miles) would take three days (75 miles distance divided by 25 miles average day travel).
When Mary Ball (one of my ancestors in the tables above) married Augustine Washington, Mary would likely
travel by horseback from her home in the south of Lancaster County, on the Rappahannock River, to
Augustine’s home on Pope’s Creek, in Westmoreland County, on the Potomac River, a distance of about 45
miles. Her trip then would be an overnight trip.
On this overnight trip, Mary would likely stay at an overnight tavern (called an ordinary in the 1700s).
Ordinaries usually had overnight accommodations and served food. Ordinaries would likely be present at
chosen strategic locations, where travelers would be in need of overnight accommodations, e.g., half-way
between a frequently-made, two-day trip. Ordinaries often took on the names of their owners, who would be
the preparers of food provided to the guests. Food was frequently what the owner would be eating and
therefore only one selection available to the guests. Ordinaries also were often a meeting place for local
citizens and would serve beer and rum (the two most consumed alcoholic beverages in the 1700s). Provisions
for horses would also likely be available. Apparently, ordinary rates were established by the Virginia Colony
Some ferries across Northern Neck rivers seem to have existed. The ferries would be known by the owners’
names. A ferry across the Rappahannock River, not far from Fredericksburg, existed. The ferry vessel would
be pulled across the river by use of a rope stretching from shore to shore. Two ferries (engine powered) still
are operated (2020) in the Northern Neck by the State of Virginia, one across the Western branch of the
Corrotoman River and the other across the Little Wicomico River.)
Travel in the 1600s and 1700s served a critical communications role (served today by many ways not available
then). Travelers were a predominate method of getting news and information. Visits to neighbors were
frequent, probably more so then today. Travelers would likely be seen often on the paths and roads. Travel
between the other locations in the Virginia Colony and to the Maryland Colony was frequent.
Holidays. Christmases would be much different from today’s Christmas season. A pre-Christmas preparatory
period did not exist like today. Christmas day might be different, depending on one’s church affiliations, with
the Anglican Church more celebratory and the separatists churches (e.g., Baptists and Presbyterians) more
subdued. Christmas day was more likely seen as the beginning of a 12-day special period, not just a one-day
event. Gift giving was limited and when gifts were given it was usually from parents to children and masters to
underlings, and more likely given on New Year’s Day then Christmas. Christmas trees were not present, but
evergreens and berries possible.
During the 12-day period of Christmas, a parade might be held, put on by Masons (Masons were a much
different, a more prevalent, influential, politically active group in the 1700s then today). The 12-day period was
a popular time to have balls and also to have weddings. New Year’s Eve was not celebrated but rather New
Year’s Day, with social gatherings and meals. Visits were popular on New Year’s day, wishing one another a
good forthcoming year. Firings of guns were likely on New Year’s Day.
I do not know of other holidays that might have existed during the 1600s and 1700s.
Introduction. In this section, I am interested in describing buildings, personal possessions, transportation
assets, and other property used during the 1600s and 1700s. I am also interested in comparisons with today. I
start off with land and land ownership.
Land Ownership. Land availability and land ownership were major incentives for immigrants going to the
Northern Neck. Initially, the English crown assumed they owned the Virginia Colony land. In the middle 1600s,
during the English Civil War, the exiled Charles II awarded ownership of the Northern Neck land to several
Englishmen, who assisted him and his eventual restoration as King of England.
The granting of this land ownership by the “crown” to private individuals begin a period of 125 years when the
land ownership in the Northern Neck would be characterized by confusion, bureaucratic difficulties, and much
change. Initially, such confusion and difficulties resulted in a few Northern Neck resident individuals (about a
dozen) owning large amounts of the Northern Neck land by the late 1600s, early 1700s. One of these dozen
individuals, Robert Carter (1663-1732), was an ancestor (listed in the above tables). Land owned by others
was of a much smaller acreage.
By the end of the 1600s, the beginning of the 1700s, the original English owners, who were granted the land by
Charles II, had sold their ownerships to one of the original owners - Lord Fairfax. Lord Fairfax acted as a de-
factor government – he would sell land to buyers, who would claim ownership, but who had to pay tax on the
land to Load Fairfax.
So by the early 1700s land was available for purchased, both from Lord Fairfax and the “dozen” individuals,
who own so much of the land at the end of the 1600s.
During the 1700s the land ownership varied quite a bit. By the late 1780s, the dozen individuals are believed
to own a lot less - about 10% of the Northern Neck land. And Lord Fairfax was no longer a large land owner.
Information indicates that by the 1780s about a half of the Northern Neck households owned land. And the
average size of land tracks owned in the middle 1700s was about 450 acres, but two thirds of the land owners
owned less than 200 acres. In the 1780s, about 65% of land owners paid taxes on less than 200 acres. The
general conclusion is that during the 1700s most of the land went from being owned by a few owners to being
owned by many owners. With the land availability and with less confusion in the 1700s, compared to the
1600s, as the land purchasing system evolved, Northern Neck land was owned by increasing numbers of
Related to this shift in landownership from a few to many was the need, by current large and smaller
landowners, for more labor to farm the tobacco, the main crop. This need for labor led to a system that
became known as the indentured servant system, under which immigrants from England would have their
passages paid for in return for a 5 to 7-year commitment to provide labor services to the persons providing the
passage fees. After the 5 to 7-year period, the indentured servant would be granted ownership of a tract of
land, perhaps 500 acres - land provided by the person who engaged the indentured servant. Those who paid
for indentured servant passages, even the smaller land-owning farmers, would also be granted additional land
acreage for sponsoring immigrants to the Northern Neck.
During the 1700s, more structure evolved in terms of land-ownership record keeping and proof of ownership.
The development of a county-wide government system help to account for this evolution. A system of land
surveying evolved which was critical for improving land ownership records. Land surveys often referenced
streams, tree lines, creeks, and other natural occurrences as land property lines. The surveying system
included the development of competent land surveyors, needed for the success of the system. The son
(George Washington) of one of my ancestors, Mary Ball Washington (1708-1789), listed in the tables above,
was such a surveyor.
What I have written above is not an attempt to provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of the land purchase
systems (I lack sufficient knowledge and understanding to do that). But rather, to portray that confusion was
often associated with Northern Neck land ownership. This confusion shows, I believe, an important conclusion
– that coherent, trustworthy, and workable land ownership systems can take time to develop. Buy this time of
development is needed for achieving more optimal transactional processes necessary for an effective land
ownership system, such as the one that eventually developed in the Northern Neck, the one that exists today.
The landowners of the 1600s and 1700s likely spent a lot more time negotiating the systems then in place for
successful land ownership than landowners do today, resulting in more efficiently and productivity in today’s
economy. The systems used in land ownership used today depend on evolution of processes, processes that
started as early as the 1600s and 1700s.
In the 1650s to 1660s, the following ancestors, found in the tables above, had the following land ownership:
Walter Broadhurst (1618-1658) 300 acres
James Claughton (1639-1698) 250 acres
Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660) 1,000 acres
During their lifetimes, the following ancestors (found in the tables above) owned at least the acreage shown:
William Ball (1615-1680) 600 acres
Robert Carter (1663-1732) 60,000 acres
Land ownership records in 1782 show that William Augustine Washington, Pemberton Claughton, George
Garner, and Robert Wormeley Carter owned land in the Northern Neck. I have Northern Neck ancestors with
the same last names (see tables above).
The various land purchase and ownership systems in the Northern Neck would exist for over 125 years from
around 1660 to 1785, when the Northern Neck system in existence in 1785 was abolished, and a state-wide
system was established by the new State of Virginia.
During these 125 years of Northern Neck land systems, land tax regimens were in place in which taxes were
due to the Charles II-appointed English and subsequent owners of the land. Representing these English
owners would be land tax agents living in the Virginia colony. An ancestor, listed in the tables above, Robert
Carter (1663-1732), held this position from 1702 to 1712 and 1722 to 1732. The land tax agent was
compensated well for the service, as well as receiving useful information on land which the agent could buy.
Robert Carter greatly benefited by being a land tax agent; this likely contributed a lot to his success as a large
Houses. In the 1600s, houses were generally very similar, of simple design, made of wood. Apparently
expectations were that the houses would not be lived in for a long time, perhaps no longer than 20 years, and
then would be replaced, so the houses would be roughly built, of wood from nearby forests, and needing
frequent repairs. Tar might be used for surface applications. These houses were built on posts that were piled
into the ground, so that a space existed between the ground and the first floor. Chimneys, built of brick or
wood, provided the heat and with possible two chimneys, one at each end of the house. Windows were limited,
and where existing, of small size. Glass use was limited, if used at all. A house could be no larger than 20 by
20 feet and only of one floor and two rooms (some with only one room). A back door might be built, lined up
with the front door so that when both doors were opened, a summer breeze might provide some cooling effect.
Most houses were of a size that people had to learn to live in very closer quarters, e.g., multiple people to one
bed, a very different living style than in today’s 21st Century America. The Northern Neck houses were very
likely much different from the English houses that the Northern Neck immigrants from England left behind.
In the latter part of the 1600s and early 1700s, newly built houses began to be larger, with more rooms and a
possible 2nd floor added. In some cases, cellars, using brick, would be built. These houses continued be built
mostly of wood into the 1700s, but brick did begin to be use in house construction, increasingly so as the
1700s reached the mid-1700s. Brick houses would be a sign of greater prosperity of the owner. Beginning
around the start of the 1700s, smaller buildings, scattered around the main house, would be built (especially by
the more successful farmers), with having such functions as: kitchen; laundry; spinning; baking; storing (e.g.,
tobacco); and meat preparation. Also built would be slave resident houses (often only one room). The change
in housing characteristics in the early 1700s, from the 1600s, likely represented a major cultural change, and a
sign of economic progress.
In addition to the above-described houses, lived in by the overwhelming majority of Northern Neck
householders, the very wealthy large landowners starting building (especially by the 1730s) much larger
houses (which came to be known as plantations), usually built of brick. These plantation houses started
appearing in increasing frequency as the large land owners began to profit handsomely from their tobacco
farming and started to look to their houses for comfort and symbols. The houses were often based on planned
architectural objectives - perhaps representing the beginning of architectural sensibilities in the Virginia
Colony. The owners often applied names to the houses they built.
The following are the names, locations, owners, and dates built of some of the plantations:
Corotoman Lancaster County built by Robert Carter in 1725
Sabine Hall Richmond County built by Landon Carter in 1730
Stratford Hall Westmoreland County built by Robert Carter II in 1730
Nomini Hall Westmoreland County built by Col. Thomas Lee in 1730s
Mount Airy Richmond County built by Col. John Tayloe in 1758-62
With the growth of house building, a demand for more skilled house builders was created that was not met by
Courthouses. Initially, in the 1600s, courthouses would be built with wood, and, by the middle of the 1700s,
those courthouses likely would be replaced with new courthouses, possibly built with brick. New courthouses
might be consistent with changes in the 1700s related to new architectural sensibilities, the use of improved
construction materials, such as brick, and better construction practices.
In Northumberland County, the first courthouse, which no longer exists, was built in 1681 at the site where the
current courthouses exist (in Heathsville). Prior to 1681 court was held in private residences or temporary
buildings. The current Heathsville courthouse buildings are adjacent to one another. One was built in 1851,
of brick, and the other in the 1990s, also of brick. Between 1681 and 1851, another, fifth courthouse was built,
likely of wood (because it no longer exists).
In Lancaster County, the present courthouse is approximately seven miles northeast of the Rappahannock
River. (It is not in a town.) This courthouse was built in 1863, of brick. A previous courthouse existed at
approximately the same location since the 1740s, possibly made of brick. Prior to the 1740s, locations of
previous courthouses are not certain, but probably closer to the Rappahannock River. Records indicate plans
for a courthouse were being discussed in the 1650s.
In Westmoreland County, the current courthouse is in Montross. Nearby is the previous brick courthouse, built
in the 1890s, now a museum and historical archive. Information on courthouses before the 1890s one have
not been discovered.
In Richmond County, the first courthouse was built in 1697, close to Landon Carter’s plantation, Sabine Hall.
This courthouse was replaced in 1730 in a new location, which became known as Warsaw in 1846 to recognize
Warsaw, Poland’s pursuit of freedom. Both of these courthouses were probably built of wood. Then in 1748, a
new brick courthouse was designed and built by Landon Carter at the same Warsaw site. This one-story brick
building was apparently used as the courthouse as late as 1975, when a new building was added as the
principle courthouse, and then a second building added in 2006 as the new principle courthouse. However,
the 1748 building is still being used as part of the courthouse campus. This is the only remaining courthouse
from the 1700s. Richmond County is fortunate in that the 1748 building is of brick, as the building has given
exceptional long-term service to the county.
In King George County, the current courthouse was built in 1923 and is located in the community of King
George. At least three previous courthouses proceeded the current one. More information on the earlier
courthouses could not be found. King George County was split off from Richmond County in 1720.
I write above that by the middle of the 1700s, courthouses built in the 1600s would likely be replaced with new
ones, possibly built of brick. This turned out to be mostly true where information could be obtained (see above
on what was found for each county. I could find that only two were built of brick - the courthouse in Richmond
County, built in 1748, and the Lancaster courthouse built in the 1740s, possibly with brick. And only the
Richmond County courthouse building still exists.
The 1748 Richmond County-built brick courthouse tells an interesting story, I think. The Richmond County
courthouse was designed and built by Landon Carter, who was very familiar with building with brick; his
plantation Sabine Hall had been built with brick in 1730. Besides having this expertise, he also probably had
the resources (e.g., money, labor, materials) needed to build a brick building, certainly resources that would be
needed in greater amounts than for building a wooden building. My conclusion is that other counties, who built
new courthouses in the 1700s, simply did not have the familiarity, skills, and resources to pursue building a
brick courthouse. But, by the 1800s, building with brick apparently became more routine, as all the
courthouses built in the 1800s were of brick. Today few, if any, buildings are built with a wooden exterior.
Churches. As written above in the Culture Section (subsection on religion), more than 75% of the 1600s and
1700s Northern Neck population are believed to have been church attendees. So, from the 1640s, with the
first immigrants arriving in Northumberland County, building churches where religious communities could meet
likely was a high priority. The following discussions are only for Church of England buildings and communities,
the official (state) church in the 1600s and most of the 1700s.
Buildings for use as churches were constructed in the 1600s. However none of them remain. Most of the
buildings were likely built of wood, one reason why they would vanish. And if some were built of brick,
construction methods and poor bricks, as well as poor design of buildings, probably account for why none of
those remain. For the same reasons, few churches remain from the 1700s.
In Northumberland County, at least two Church of England communities (parishes) emerged during the 1600s –
St. Stephens (in Heathsville) and Wicomico (on today’s route 200) – with both constructing church buildings,
but none of the buildings lasting beyond the 1700s. However, the two church communities did last and today
church congregations, with the same names, meet at the same locations in buildings built in the 1800s, or later.
In Lancaster County, church buildings were associated with at least two communities during the 1600s and
1700s: Christ Church (on today’s route 646, near Irvington) and St. Mary’s Whitechapel (on route 364, about 9
miles northwest of Irvington). Both of these communities constructed brick churches in 1700s: Christ Church in
1728 and St. Mary’s Whitechapel in 1740. One building has lasted to today and is recognized as perhaps the
most admired remaining church building from the 1700s, at least in the Northern Neck. The St. Mary’s
Whitechapel’s 1740 building did not survive. After the American Revolution, the 1740’s building was
abandoned for 30 years and became unusable. When a church community resumed use of the land in the
1800s, a new building had to be constructed, which is the building currently in use.
Both of these 1700s Lancaster County church buildings were associated with families (the Carter family –
Christ Church - and the Ball family – St. Mary’s Whitechapel), who helped in the construction of these
buildings. Both of these families had members who are in the tables of my ancestors shown above and who
participated in facilitating the buildings’ constructions. Another ancestor, Capt. David Fox, provided land and
funds in the 1660s, when the St. Mary’s Whitechapel’s first building was constructed, which preceded the 1740-
In Westmoreland County, two locations (one in Kinsale and the other in Mount Holly) have church communities
going back to the 1600s. Only one of them, at Kinsale, has a building from the 1700s. The brick building at
Kinsale, call Yeocomico Church, was built in 1706. A wooden building existed there prior to the 1706 building.
This 1706 building is apparently the oldest church building in the Northern Neck.
The other location, Mount Holly, has a church community going back to the 1600s, but the current building
goes back only to 1852, with previous buildings being replaced. Both of these buildings, the one in Kinsale and
the one in Mount Holly, are now Episcopal Churches (as are most, if not all, current church communities in the
Northern Neck that originally were Church of England communities).
In Richmond County, two current church communities and buildings can trance their histories back to the
1600/1700s. One, Farnham Church (in Farnham), dates back to the 1693. Its current building is a largely-
restored (in 1887) badly damaged 1700s building that had only the walls remaining. The other church, St.
John’s (in Warsaw), has a building dating back to 1835, which replaced a previous 1732 building.
In King George County, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s (in King George) history goes back to the 1600s. The
community that evolved in the 1600s built two wooden buildings before the current brick building, in use by St.
Paul’s, was built in 1767. A second King George’s County church building that dates back to the 1700s is
Lamb’s Creek Church building (built in the 1770s).
I could find no other buildings and church communities that date back to the 1600s and 1700s, other than the
buildings and associated communities identified above.
Each of the five surviving church buildings from the 1700s – Christ Church in Lancaster County; Yeocomico
Church in Westmoreland County; Farnham Church (restored to original design) in Richmond County; and St.
Paul’s and Lamb’s Creek in King George County – have unique, interesting designs, very different from
churches built in the 1800s and later. The buildings are not big, with only a ground-level floor. Each building
has a unique entrance and a variety of window designs.
The small size of each building suggests that attendance had to be small at any given service. Since these
buildings served the existing parishes in the 1700s, church attendance likely was a far less percentage of the
population than the believed church attendance in the 1700s (some reports suggest that church attendance
might have been as high as 75% of the population). These churches seem too small to serve 75% of the
Northern Neck population, which might have been as high as 10,000 by the late 1700s. What seems likely is
that these buildings were built to serve those in the two upper class levels (discussed above in the Culture
Section’s Class Structure subsection): the large land owners and the yeoman planters, higher level service
providers, who lived nearby, not requiring long distances to attend church. And that the churches were only
intended to serve a limited geographical area, perhaps closest to where the two upper class levels residents
lived. So, if 75% of the population did attend church, other church building locations needed to exist.
Three of the five Northern Neck courthouses (those in: Heathsville, Northumberland County; Warsaw,
Richmond County; and King George, King George County) have close-by one of the 1600s/1700s church
buildings described above. This is consistent with what is believed was a planning goal in the 1600s and
1700s, which was to collocate courthouses with churches and other facilities to develop communities. However,
none of these three courthouses and churches are today in towns of any size. This suggests that other
factors, other than planning and building construction, are needed for town (city) growth.
Personal Possessions. In this subsection, I am interested in exploring what the personal possessions of the
Northern Neck residents of the 1600s and 1700s might indicate about what life was like then. By personal
possessions, I mean primarily those items that might have been recorded on wills, probate documents, and tax
records as belonging to individuals. Two questions I am looking to answer include: 1. Did the personal
possessions of my ancestors, the ancestors listed in the tables above, correlate with the class level I believe
those ancestors are in, based on other factors such as land ownership and public office appointments? and 2.
How did 1600s and 1700s individuals perceive, think about personal possessions – their values, symbols, etc.,
compare to people living today and how did their possessions compare to today in terms of life styles,
expectations and other attributes?
In general, most personal possession items were likely imported from England, as producers of such items were
not yet established in the Northern Neck. English imported items provided a sense of pride to those owning
Probate-will records, examined by others, indicate that several residents in the middle 1700s identified large
number of forks, knives, and spoons, and similar items as personal property, which apparently is considered by
historians as a good indicator of having done well financially.
Large number of such items, listed in the 1700s by one of my Ball family ancestor members, suggests the
economic well-being of that ancestor. (This is discussed further below in Section 9 -Balls.)
Northern Neck residents likely had much fewer personal possessions, and lived a poorer lifestyle, compared to
their counterparts in England.
Because waterways are so predominantly present in the Northern Neck, boats of various sizes (e.g., ketch,
sloop, canoe) were likely owned extensively for transportation use, and therefore an important personal
possession for many. Many of the large landowners owned ships for exporting tobacco to England and
returning with manufactured items. An example would be Robert Carter (1663-1762) (on my ancestor tables
above), who owned more than one ship capable of transporting tobacco to England.
Even as water transportation was frequently used, travel by horse and carriage was necessary. Very likely
most farmers (large and small) – those in class levels 1, 2, and 3 described in the Culture Section above, under
Class Structure – would own at least one horse. The very rich would also own race horses, as horse racing
was a popular entertainment – as explained in the Culture Section above, under Entertainment and Socializing.
The extent of carriage use is not well known. Perhaps in my ancestor inventory probate records an indication
of carriage ownership, or lack of such, as well as how wide-spread carts and wagons might have been owned
could be found.
Likely traveling distances beyond one’s own farm, church, and courthouse community was not prevalent, as
roads were bad, methods of travel tiring, and absences from one’s daily requirements hard to justify when so
much depended on meeting those requirements.
In this section, I will explore how government evolved in the Northern Neck during the 1600s and 1700s. I will
identify, where known, those of my ancestors, in the tables above, who participated in government.
Government in the Northern Neck started with the Church of England parish system, soon after the first English
immigrants arrived in the mid-1600s. With the parishes, came the establishment of vestries (like a board of
directors) with responsibilities in the governing of the parish affairs. Vestry members usually would be selected
from the most economically well-off in the community and would always be men. The parish affairs were quite
broad, much more than just the running of a religious community; much broader than vestries in today’s
churches. The responsibilities included: taking care of the poor and disabled; maintaining community facilities,
such as roads and streams; and law and order. Basically, the responsibilities, other than religious affairs,
included much of what governments eventually would be expected to handle.
As parish populations grew, with increasing immigration, and with more resources needed, a county system
evolved. This is not surprising, as such a system existed in England, and the English immigrants would be
quite familiar with English county functioning. At the center of the county system is the courthouse community
(see above in the Property Section, subsection Courthouse, for locations of the five Northern Neck courthouse
communities, one for each county that eventually was created in the Northern Neck).
Initially, the whole of the Northern Neck, when a county system was enacted, consisted of one county, called
Northumberland. This did not last long, because growth in populations needed changes in government. With
increasing numbers of people, more resources were needed, as well as an effective system of allocating those
resources, and breaking a large county into smaller ones was the approach taken. Northumberland came into
existence in 1648, and then: Lancaster, 1651; Westmoreland, 1653; Stafford, 1664, out of which came the
remaining two counties of the Northern Neck – Richmond and King George.
As mentioned above in the Demographics Section, an early group of settlers immigrated (in the 1640s) from
Maryland to the south bank area of the Potomac River. This group seems to me to have been made up of
some very talented individuals, with shared values, who preceded to create the conditions for evolving a
community possessing strong sustaining qualities necessary for long-term community success. By success, I
mean a community with strong voluntary participation, seeking welfare for the whole community, which I believe
did occur in the group that came from Maryland. Individuals in this group were Englishmen, and as
Englishmen, knew and experienced the county system; but more than that, they had the skills to make the
system eventually work well, starting from scratch. This I think is a remarkable accomplishment, and accounts
immeasurably for America’s success as a colony-to-nation experiment, when so many such experiments failed.
Perhaps what this group experience in Maryland, under Lord Baltimore’s governance, was authoritarianism,
which was one of the reasons the group rebelled and left for the Northern Neck. And perhaps that is why the
group was motivated to proceed in the way it did - to develop the community it did, after arriving in the Northern
Holding county government positions was considered an honor, a symbol for being well respected in the
community, and county residents aspired to such positions. As with Church of England parish vestries, only
the most well-off, economically successful obtained such positions. Often the same families would supply the
holders of these positions generation after generation. Such positions included: commissioner; sheriff; justice
of the peace; coroner; and surveyor of the roads.
My ancestors, those in the tables above, who held such positions included:
commissioner John Washington (1631-1677) 1600s
commissioner Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660) 1600s
coroner David Fox (1650-1702) 1600s
coroner John Washington (1631-1677) 1600s
justice of the peace Augustine Washington (1694-1743) 1700s
justice of the peace David Fox (1650-1702) 1600s
justice of the peace John Claughton (1659-1726) 1600s
justice of the peace Joseph Ball (1694-1711) 1700s
magistrate Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660) 1600s
magistrate Thomas Matthew (1630-1703) 1600s
naval officer John Washington (1631-1677) 1600s
sheriff Augustine Washington (1694-1743) 1700s
sheriff David Fox (1650-1702) 1600s
sheriff Richard Claughton (1693-1773) 1700s
surveyor - roads John Cralle (1724-1778) 1700s
A commissioner in the 1600s would likely have ultimate authority in a county, possibly with other
commissioners, for county government actions.
A magistrate in the 1600s would likely have authority for judicial affairs related to county laws and regulations.
Magistrate roles could overlap with justice of the peace roles and the terms might be used interchangeably.
A justice of the peace in the 1600s and 1700s had various roles, including insuring an orderly community,
county adherence to Colony laws, judging unlawful acts, and mediating disputes. Justice of the peace roles
could overlap with magistrate roles and the terms might be used interchangeably.
Sheriffs in the 1600s and 1700s had several functions (that could vary from county to county) related to
assisting the judicial system, arresting and bringing people to trial, supervising the prison system, enforcing
and collecting taxes. The sheriff position starting developing in the late 1600s.
Coroners in the 1600s and 1700s investigated the causes of death, documented deaths, and maintained
Roads Surveyor (or Surveyor of the Roads) had responsibility for ensuring adequate county roads.
Going from the 1600s to the 1700s, county government responsibilities continued to increase, with the size of
government increasing. New responsibilities included: tobacco industry oversight; road development and
maintenance; river navigation oversight; and export/import regulations. Road development and maintenance
became a major government responsibility with a scope previously unknown, as new, needed roads became
indispensable. New technologies were developing in road building and maintenance, such as using wood, and
possible other surface coverings.
As these new needs for government were evolving, public views on the needs and involvement of government
likely was evolving. These increased needs met increased burdens on the population through increased
taxes. So, beginning at around this time, in the Northern Neck and elsewhere, we likely see debates beginning
on the role of government that have continued to the present.
As the Northern Neck counties grew, principally due to the farming industry, land-related complaints and
disputes became numerous. Addressing these became a critical role of the court system, a major part of the
county government. In addition to the adjudicating of land disputes, the court system also had such
responsibilities as: picking local leaders; maintaining social order and morality; maintaining a system for orderly
transfer of property; and raising taxes. The court system’s capacity to meet these responsibilities were limited
in the 1600s but increased significantly in the 1700s.
Complicating the court’s ability to resolve land-related disputes and oversee land ownership transfers was the
status of the Northern Neck as a proprietary (Northern Neck land ownership granted by Charles II to fellow
English men, who supported his restoration to power – see the above Property Section, subsection Land
Ownership, for more on this proprietary arrangement). Another court problem was lack of sufficient
enforcement capacities to ensure its rulings were carried out.
As mentioned above, those occupying parish and government positions came from the wealthier land-owning
classes (e.g., those in my Class Level I and II, explained above in the Culture Section, Class Structure
subsection). Some form of voting likely took place, even from the mid-1600s, to select these position
occupants. Those allowed to vote would evolve over time and usually with increased restrictions as to who
could vote; restrictions that would include land ownership, race, gender, and religion. Voting during the 1700s
was considered a privilege (and only for the privileged) and not a right. Obviously, major changes in voting
rights have occurred, coming forward to the present day.
The implications of one’s vote, especially when considered collectively, i.e., the sum of everyone’s vote, is
inseparable from attempts of achieving equality and justice for all. Good, proper government is necessary for
such attempts to be successful, and I believe the beginning of good, proper government can be found in
Northern Neck county government evolution of the 1600s and 1700s.
Taxes began almost immediately following the establishment of county governments in the middle 1600s. Tax
was imposed on each adult worker (greater than age 15) within a family unit. This tax, called the tithable tax,
would continue into the 1700s. For example, in Lancaster County, in 1716, there were 314 taxpayers (family
units). These family units would include, as taxable: any slaves of working age; indentured servants under
contract to the family; and adult children. Of these 314 families, the following data exists: 113 families paid
only one tithable; 94 families paid 2; 37 families paid 3; 22 families paid 4; 13 families paid 5; and 35 families
paid more than 5. Land was also taxed.
In addition to county-level government positions, positions at the colony-level were also aspired to. Such
positions included: House of Burgesses; Virginia Council; committee appointments; and 1776 Convention
delegates. Ancestors listed in the tables above who held such positions include:
House of Burgesses
Walter Broadhurst (1618-1658)
David Fox (1650-1702)
Richard Kenner (1635-1692)
Rodham Kenner (1671-1706)
John Washington (1631-1677)
William Ball (1615-1680)
Joseph Ball (1649-1711)
John Carter (1613-1669)
Robert Carter (1663-1732)
David Fox (1650-1702)
John Washington (1631-1677)
Acting Deputy Governor
Robert Carter (1663-1732)
Committee Overseeing Trade with England
John Cralle (1724-1778)
1776 Fifth Virginia Convention
John Cralle (1724-1778)
Members of the House of Burgesses were elected by counties and had the function of legislating for the
Virginia Colony. The House of Burgesses was one of two bodies, the other being the Governor’s Council,
making up the Virginia Colony General Assembly. The House of Burgesses was transformed into the House of
Delegates after independence from England in 1776 and continues today as a Virginia legislative body.
The Governor’s Council (also known as The Council and The Council of State) was a group of 12 prominent
men, appointed by the English monarchy, with the function of advising the governor and lieutenant governor.
The Council also served as a court in certain issues. The Council was considered to be one half of the Virginia
Colony General Assembly, with the other half being the House of Burgesses. The Council was in existence
from the early 1600s to 1776.
The Committee Overseeing Trade with England is believed to have been a Northumberland County committee
overseeing Northumberland trade with England. Many Virginia counties set up such committees in 1774.
The 1776 Fifth Virginia Convention was the last of five conventions held in the 1774 to 1776 time period to
consider Virginia’s response to various events happening in the colonies related to the independent movement
from England. The fifth convention declared Virginia as an independent state and produced Virginia’s first
constitution and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Each Virginia county sent one delegate to the fifth. John
Cralle was Northumberland County’s delegate.
6. Industry, Technology, and Services
Introduction. In this section, I am interested in better understanding industry sectors, technology levels, and
service activities found in the Norther Neck during the 1600s and 1700s and how they compared with today. I
pursue this understanding by exploring such topics as: agriculture; manufacturing, services, and technologies.
One objective is to connect my ancestors (listed in tables above) with topics in this section that they might have
been involved in.
Agriculture. During the 1600s and into the middle 1700s, the tobacco industry was the largest income
producer in the Northern Neck. During this time, agricultural practices evolved in terms of: standard
procedures; regulator needs; practitioner knowledge and successes; and other factors that make a major
industry successful. The primary market during this time was overseas, so good export practices were crucial.
Also contributing to the success of the industry were: the growing English and European demand for tobacco
products; the land that the English immigrants had available to them and could convert successfully into
growing tobacco; the knowledge and contacts that the English immigrants had of and in England that greatly
assisted them in sales in England; the ready access to waterways that easily led to the Atlantic Ocean; the
capability to conduct trans-Atlantic crossings in sufficient time to deliver the product successfully; governmental
practices that allowed farmers to prosper by growing tobacco; and the ability to import necessary tools,
animals, and other materials by farmers. This set of characteristics to a successful export enterprise seems to
me to have not much changed over time. A conclusion is that these characteristics of the 1600s and 1700s
Northern Neck tobacco industry indicate how successful that industry was.
Estimates are that between 1750 and 1755, the Northern Neck region produced approximately 85,000
hogsheads of tobacco. This period is considered to be close to, if not the most, successful period for the
Northern Neck tobacco industry. A hogshead was a large, wooden barrel designed to store and transport
tobacco. Hogsheads needed to be standardized for used in the industry, so that each one had about 1,000
pounds of tobacco. So, 85,000 hogsheads of tobacco would be about 85 million pounds (85,000 hogherds
times 1,000 pounds per hogshead) or about 39,000 metric tons (85 million pounds divided by 2,205 pounds
per metric ton). By comparison, the United States exported in 1978, its peak year in tobacco leaf exports,
about 348,000 metric tons of tobacco leaf. My conclusion is that 39,000 metric tons exported by the Northern
Neck tobacco industry is not an inconsiderable amount, and the tobacco industry in the Northern Neck, at its
peak, was a major colony industry sector.
During this large tobacco industry period, the Northern Neck would look much different than it does today, with
many tobacco barns scattered about, frequent hogsheads transgressing over specially-designed roads to river-
side wharfs, and fields full of tree trunks not needed to be removed in land clearing, saving much labor. Also
no powered mechanical devices would be seen in the fields doing labor work, only men, women, children,
horses, and oxen. Fencing had very limited use, usually only for a garden suppling a family’s vegetables.
Cattle would not be fenced in and could be seen roaming freely.
But, unfortunately for the Northern Neck tobacco farmer, by the late 1700s, at least two occurrences met the
end of the industry in the Northern Neck: first, the exhaustion of most, if not, all the Northern Neck land, due to
overgrowing of tobacco on the land, a plant that extracts necessary land nutrients unmercifully and, second,
the decline of the market demand for the products that Northern Neck tobacco farmers could provide.
The following ancestors were tobacco farmers, based on land ownership:
William Ball (1615-1680)
Walter Broadhurst (1618-1658)
Robert Carter (1663-1732)
James Claughton (1639-1698)
Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660)
Flour Production. As the Northern Neck tobacco industry was declining in the latter parts of the 1700s,
farmers were increasing their production of corn and wheat. This led to the development of flour-producing
mills, some of which became significant commercially. An example of this was Robert Carter III (1728-1804), a
grandson of Robert Carter (1663-1732), who operated very successful flour mills in Westmoreland County.
Another development helping the Northern Neck farmer to increase corn and wheat production was improved
plows and harrows (e.g., better designs and materials). Also the land in the 1700s was freer of roots and tree
stomps, that interfere with plow and harrow use. The tobacco farmers did not find use for plows and harrows,
but corn and wheat farmers did.
It was during this period when increased immigration were occurring to lands west of the Virginia falls line and
other areas. This increased immigrant population created new markets for products, such as the flour
produced by the mills, which developed areas, such as the Northern Neck, could produce more efficiently and
effectively. These new markets helped to sustain the Northern Neck agriculture sector. The lessons learned
from the tobacco industry likely assisted in helping Northern Neck farmers create successful product-exporting
capacities, leading to successful exporting to areas west of the Northern Neck.
Forestry. When English immigrants first settled in the Northern Neck in the 1640s, greater than 90 percent of
the land was likely covered by thick forests of oak, pine, and American chestnut, and perhaps other species.
Harvesting these trees for use in other industries, such as house and ship building, became a Northern Neck
industry sector, a sector that no longer exists in the Northern Neck in any substantive way. Tar, pitch, and
other materials were also produced by the forestry industry.
Shipbuilding. Ship-use in the Northern Neck by tobacco farmers to export their products was extensive. This,
and the forests that existed, led to the creation of a 1600s and 1700s shipbuilding industry in the Northern
Neck. A specialty of the Northern Neck shipbuilding industry was ships that were suitable for the shallow waters
surrounding the Northern Neck.
Shipbuilders (or in some cases ship repairers) had the name of shipwrights or ship carpenters in the 1600s and
1700s. Often shipwrights would own land along the rivers of the Northern Neck, where ships under
construction could be easily spotted. Kinsale, in Westmoreland County on the Yeocomico River that flows into
the Potomac, was an active area of shipbuilding in the 1700s.
Earthenware. Bowls, plates, and other earthenware were produced as early as the late 1600s in
Spinner Halls. Buildings, known as spinner halls, existed in the late 1600s in Lancaster County, used for
spinning linen and cloth. Looms, flax wheels, and hackles could be found in these buildings.
Mining. An iron ore mine existed in King George County in the 1720s. Whether the mining operations
included the capacity to convert the mined iron ore to iron (a chemical process) is not known. England was a
market for iron.
Crafts Services. As the population and economy in the Northern Neck grew, the need for craftsmen in
several areas grew. Craftsmen such as: container makers (coopers); metal workers (smiths); carpenters
(joiners); mill workers (millers); and stone workers (masons) became increasingly needed, and their skills and
practices developed accordingly. The development of other sectors help to create a demand for specialist
Legal Services. Being an attorney in the 1600s and 1700s was much different than being one today.
Licenses were not required; legal schools and legal degrees did not exist. The county court system was where
the important legal decisions were made; appeals beyond the county court were unlikely. And many decisions
at the county court was based on common sense; little legal precedent, which serve as guidance, existed.
Communication Services. Prior to 1780, only one newspaper existed in Virginia – The Virginia Gazette.
This publication provided a critical communication function. Many depended on it for posting announcements.
A mail service operated in the 1700s, managed by the British Government. Certain roads were designated as
“post roads”, on which mail was transported. These roads ran along the east coast. Post service between the
colonies and England also operated.
Science and Technology. Medical service providers were not particularly successful in the 1660s and early
1700s in providing effective treatments, due to a lack of sufficient understanding of what causes diseases and
their treatment. This began to improve towards the end of the1700s. For example, small pox inoculations
began at the end of the 1700s. No medical schools existed in the colonies, one had to go to Europe for
schooling. The numbers of medical practitioners were insufficient for most residents to see a medical
specialist, even if that specialist had limited ability to provide a treatment. Child delivery practices resulted in
extremely high infant and mother mortality rates. Dental care was terrible. The quality of medical care then, in
the 1600s and the 1700s, was simply incomparable to what is available today. Medical problems then were a
real drag on the society.
In the mid-1700s, better surveying tools, such as a better compass, were being developed. Surveying was a
critical service as the Northern Neck was being settled.
In this section, I present information and analysis on what I considered to be economic aspects of the Northern
Neck during the 1600s and 1770s.
After a robust economic growth period in the middle 1700s in the Northern Neck tobacco industry, a severe
depression developed in the 1780s, correlating with the American independence war. Such an event would
naturally lead to decreased trade with England. And then following the 1780s, the 1790s saw further economic
problems, as the new nation, and its government, struggled with economic problems. Other periods of
economic depression in the 1600s and 1700s in the Northern Neck included the late 1600s and early 1700s,
due somewhat to the political problems in England at that time. In spite of these recessionary periods, the
Northern Neck was considered to have one of the best economies in the Virginia Colony in the 1700s.
Land was a critical Northern Neck asset (source of wealth generation) in the 1600s and 1700s. Based on the
perceived value of this land for generating wealth, capital flow became available from England. Another critical
asset was slaves. As slaves were necessary for the land to provide the expected returns, the cost of slaves
had to be factored into the expected profits.
Although the tobacco trade remained the greatest source of profits for the Northern Neck, beginning in the
middle 1700s, shipbuilding, forest products, grain farming, and mills started to be significant income sources.
The Northern Neck was considered to be an area of relatively high economic diversification in the 1700s. See
the above Section 6 – Industry, Technology, and Services – for more on the various industrial sectors that
Due to the good economic performance, many in the Northern Neck in the 1700s generated sufficient wealth to
be active investors in such enterprises as: mills; mining; distillery; textiles; fisheries; tobacco warehouses;
shipbuilding; and ship ownership. This investment activity reflects a good entrepreneur atmosphere, which is
necessary for economic innovation and growth. This entrepreneurship was centered in families, especially
those with large land holdings and economic success. This contrasts to today where entrepreneurship is
centered more in organizations. Also, the Northern Neck entrepreneurship atmosphere likely influenced many
who grew up there in the later 1700s and accounted somewhat for the contributions of so many from the
Northern Neck in the new nation’s political, and other, advancements.
The farmers doing the best economically were those who had indentured servants and/or slaves working the
land. In 1716 (see data above on taxes in the Government Section), 201 taxpayers (family units) had two or
more indentured servants and/or slaves (and/or adult children) as workers in the family unit (for each worker, a
tax payment was due). Based on this, about 65% of the family units (201 family units with more than one
worker paying taxes divided by 314 total family units paying taxes) could be considered as doing well, based on
the criteria that labor was important for successful tobacco farming.
From the same data, 35 of the family units had 6 or more indentured servants, slaves, and/or adult children
working the family’s farm, or 10% of all families (35 family units/314 family units). (These 10% would be
considered to be in the Class-Level One and Two, described in my Class-Level scheme in the above Culture
Section, subsection Class Structure.)
These 10% in the Class-Level One and Two were wealthy compared to others. This wealth and the relatively
few numbers in the class could be considered to be the Northern Neck 1700s equivalent of the “top one
percent” that is used today to describe a class. The 1700s Northern Neck had its version of today’s “wealth
Compared to today, personal possessions represented more of a person’s overall wealth. Personal
possessions likely accounted for a much higher percentage of a person’s expenditures then they do today. A
person’s wealth was in land, slaves, a house, and personal possessions, with very little of it in cash and liquid
assets, unlike today. Probate wills show an increase in the quality and quantity of personal possessions
owned at death throughout the 1700s, reflecting what was considered to be most valuable.
Poor requiring assistance existed. Although initially churches provided any support available for the poor, by
the late 1700s, county governments had taken over much of this responsibility. Facilities (e.g., alms houses)
and other support were available.
The Northern Neck economy in the 1600s and 1700s was one where payments were usually made in quantities
of tobacco. Also, the economy used barter transactions (e.g., goods exchanged for goods) in payments
between individuals; likely much more than today. These two payment methods represented systems that
inhibited economic growth. Likely one of the challenges of the nation, after independence, would be improving
payment systems. Today the country leads the world in financial systems.
Because the Northern Neck economy apparently did not, in most transactions, use English money, the value of
English money received on tobacco sales to the English was worth much more in England than in the Northern
Neck. This lead to those receiving payments on exports (to England) spending what was received in England in
buying English goods and shipping them to the Northern Neck.
The Northern Neck economy in the 1600s and the 1700s depended on exporting products. Profits gained from
exports were critical. Tobacco exporters were very much aware of this and maximizing profits was a primary
concern. English laws, such as the Navigation Acts of the 1600s, governed the Colony export trading
businesses. Although these Acts restricted Colony exports only to England, Northern Neck farmers did export
to other countries and colonies. Whether England knew of this and what actions they took is not clear, but
such defiance (representing a need) likely provided substance for later rebellions against English rules in the
In the Industry, Technology, and Services Section, subsection Agriculture, above, data is presented suggesting
that in the 1750 to 1755 time period about 39,000 metric tons of tobacco was exported to England. Assuming
that the cargo capacity of one 1750’s sailing ship then was, on average, 150 metric tons of tobacco, then about
260 trips from Virginia to England would be required to carry the 39,000 metric tons (39,000 metric tons divided
by 150 metric tons per trip = 260 trips). By comparison, one moderately-sized container ship today could carry
the 39,000 metric tons in one trip, assuming that one 1755 sailing ship had the capacity of 15 containers (260
trips times 15 containers = 3,900 containers; 3,900 containers easily fit on one moderately-size container ship
Scotland increasingly in the 1700s got involved in Northern Neck and the Virginia Colony’s export trade. One
result of this was a relatively large number of Scots coming to the Virginia Colony, acting as agents on behalf of
Scottish businesses and interests. Many of the Scots did not returned to Scotland, effectively representing a
Scottish immigration to America. ((One of my great grandfathers, Richard W. Robertson (1831-1918), was a
descendant of such a Scottish immigrant to central Virginia.))
The economic success of the tobacco industry in the mid-1700s correlated with important culture changes in
the Northern Neck (see the section Culture above for more on cultural changes). This suggests to me a
connection between economics and culture characteristics.
In this section, I write about Northern Neck individual and community concerns for security. Such tensions that
would lead to these concerns include Indian attacks, crime, slave rebellions, and a fight for independence from
Tensions certainly existed between the Northern Neck settlers and the area Indian tribes, primarily over land
use. Often settlers encroached on land that the Indian tribes thought they were entitled to, either through
negotiation or through long-term use. Rebellions by Indian tribes in 1622 and 1644, in other areas of the
Virginia Colony, when many settlers were killed, would certainly create security concerns for more such
rebellions continuing past the 1640s.
The Northern Neck culture, for the most part, was hard on those who not only committed serious crimes but
also those who violated community norms. Public punishments were common, even for those committing
relatively minor offences, such as misbehaving at public meetings. Capital punishment, by public hanging, was
meted out for the most serious crimes. The public punishments were considered to be a deterrent, especially
for lower-level crimes due to embarrassment thought to be associated with punishment in public.
Two periods considered to have increased crime were: 1. The periods in the 1700s when increased numbers of
indentured servants, convicted of offenses in England, arrived in the Northern Neck and 2. During the 1780s
when society was in disarray due to the war with England.
The Indian threat as well as the remoteness of farms, the threat from wild animals, especially in the 1600s,
slave rebellions, and the reality of the lack of adequate security would lead to widespread gun ownership. It
was probably rare to find a family that did not own at least one gun, readily available for use. Considering
those threats, it is easy to understand how gun ownership would become viewed as a necessity, continuing to
be so embedded to the present in the American psyche, even beyond the times when reasons for gun
ownership no longer existed.
Tensions existed to some extent, in the mid-1600s, with the Maryland Colony, related to religious differences
(Maryland having many Catholic settlers). Also, competition for Indian loyalties and cooperation as well the
closeness of the two areas with ship piracy occurring, seemingly was behind some of the tensions. Some of the
first settlers (protestants) in Northumberland County migrated there from the Maryland Colony because of
catholic-protestant tensons in the Maryland Colony.
The potential of slave rebellions created tensons. In 1687, a slave conspiracy to kill whites and then escape
was discovered in Westmoreland County, with the conspiracy leaders executed.
In response to the security concerns during the 1600s, each county established and maintained a militia,
continuing to have them until past the 1700s. The following ancestors, listed in the ancestors’ tables above,
had militia service:
militia member known highest grade
Joseph Ball (1649-1700) LtCol
William Ball (1615-1680) Capt.
John Carter (1613-1669) Capt.
Robert Carter (1631-1732) Col
Thomas Cralle (1695-1726) Capt.
David Fox (1650-1702) Capt.
Richard Kenner (1635-1692) Capt.
Rodham Kenner (1671-1706) Maj
Augustine Washington (1694-1743) Capt.
All males were expected to serve in the militia, which usually was commanded by a colonel. Militias might be
called on to do various tasks (other than the initial one of repelling Indian attacks), such as seeking run-away-
slaves. Militias also served county-wide socializing and cohesion roles.
Internal differences within the counties, between the residents, existed at various times. The political
upheavals in England in the second half of the 1600s and early 1700s likely created some tension in the
Northern Neck. Although, for the most part, the Northern Neck remained loyal to the English crown,
nevertheless the other side (Cromwell and the parliamentarians) had the government power for a period of
time, and with that, the ability to intervene in Colony affairs. The English civil/political divisions likely created, at
least to some extent, uncertainties and confusion in the Northern Neck, which would be a source of tension.
Possibly related to the political difficulties in England, 1676 saw the start of what can be described as a civil war
in the Virginia Colony, known as Bacon’s Rebellion, with colony residents for and against the rebellion, causing
not just tensions but casualties. Rebellious settlers thought the colony government was not doing enough to
protect them against the Indians and to open Indian land for settlements, among other complaints.
1730s tensions developed between the smaller tobacco farmers and the Colony government over regulations
related to the tobacco industry, such as requiring the use of government warehouses. Some disobedience
occurred, such as the burning of warehousers.
Religious differences, starting in the middle 1700s between the “official” church – the Church of England – and
the “separatists” denominations, likely created some tension.
The 1750s - 1760s period saw war between England and France, including fighting on the North American
continent (known as the French and Indian War). Virginia militia marched against the French and Indians.
Northern Neck militia served in the 1st and 2nd Virginia regiments.
The period of pursuing greater independence from England (after the 1750s) created tension between those
on the side of independence and those wanting to remain loyal to England. Loyalists to England during this
period, in the minority, suffered abuse, with many relocating to parts further west, e.g., in the Shenandoah
Vallely, to Canada, and to England.
In the Northern Neck, events occurred as early as the 1760s reflecting resistance to, and more independence
from, various English actions. A 1766 proclamation (known as the Leedstown Resolutions), signed by a group
of 115 Westmoreland and other Northern Neck county citizens, protested taxation without consent (specifically
England’s Stamp Act). They pledged by the proclamation that they stood together in their objection to the
implementation of the Stamp Act in the Virginia Colony.
Signers with last names the same as ancestors in the tables above, and related to those ancestors, were:
Leedstown Resolutions Signers with Ancestor Last Names
Robert Wormeley Carter
John Augustine Washington
Some restrictions on trade with England apparently were put into place in the Northern Neck during the 1770s.
County committees were created to monitor those restrictions and ensure compliance. One of the ancestors in
the tables above, John Cralle (1724-1778), was on the Northumberland Committee. But not all Northern neck
residents were supportive of independence from England. Many were concerned about being drafted to fight.
The American Revolutions War in the 1770s and 1780s was, of course, a very tense period in the Northern
9. Ancestors Living in the Northern Neck in the 1600s and 1700s – Ball, Carter, Champe,
Claughton, Cralle, Garner, and Washington
In this section, I will provide details related to the following male ancestor family names who lived in the Northern
Neck in the 1600s and 1700s: Ball; Carter; Champe; Claughton; Cralle (Crawley); Garner; and Washington. I
will also provide details on Northern Neck female ancestor family names such as: Armstead; Fox; Kenner;
Ludlow; Matthew; Pope; Rodham; Spelman; and Warner
Ball. My great grandfather’s (Charles A. Jenkins; 1850-1927) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is through his
mother (Rosalie O. Carter Jenkins – 1818-1853), who was a descendant of Elizabeth (Betty) Lewis (1765-
1830), Rosalie’s grandmother. Elizabeth (Betty) Lewis’s grandmother was Mary Ball, born in Lancaster
County. As is well known, and details extensively available, Mary Ball was the mother of President George
Washington, as well as the mother of Elizabeth Washington Lewis (1773-1797), Elizabeth (Betty) Washington’s
The first in this family of Balls living in the Northern Neck was apparently William Ball, who immigrated to the
Northern Neck from England after 1615, and dying, in what became Lancaster County, in 1680. William was
Mary Ball’s grandfather. Several generations of Balls would live in Lancaster County through the 1700s, in the
area known as Millenback, on the west side of the Corrotoman River. Joseph Ball, William’s son, was Mary Ball’
s father. A William Ball IV, who ran a joiner and silversmith shop, died in 1742. A William Ball V did poorly,
abandoning his family and dying at sea in 1760.
Many Balls were recognized as prominent community members, serving in various governmental positions
through the generations. A Spencer Mottram Ball was in the House of Burgesses as was a William Ball. A
James Ball was a justice of the peace in 1722. Several Balls were officers in the county militia and one Ball
served during the War of Independence. At least one Ball served as county sheriff and one as coroner.
The Balls were a strong supporter of the St. Mary’s Whitechapel Church, which still exists. William Ball IV
(1676-1744) was a close friend of Robert Carter (1663-1732), whose plantation was close to the Balls along
the Corrotoman River that flows into the Rappahannock River, not far from the Chesapeake Bay.
Hannah Atherold (1615-1695), possibly born in Suffolk, England, was married to William Ball (1615-1680), and
they were the parents of Joseph Ball (1645-1711). Mary Bennet Johnson, who married Joseph Ball, and were
the parents of Mary Ball, possibly came to the Northern Neck as an indentured servant.
Ball probate/will records, examined by others, indicate that several Ball descendants in the middle 1700s
identified large number of forks, knives, and spoons, and similar items as personal property, which apparently
is considered by historians as a good indicator of having done well financially. Many Balls were slave owners.
On these financial characteristics, and the community records of service discussed above, I would place the
Lancaster Balls in the second level of the Class Scheme (Class Level Two) I outlined in the Culture Section,
subsection Class Structure above. This second level consists of yeoman planters, lower-level land owners,
and higher service providers.
Carter. My great grandfather’s (Charles A. Jenkins - 1850-1927) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is
through his mother (Rosalie O. Carter Jenkins – 1818-1853). Rosalie was a descendant of Charles Carter
(1765-1827) (her grandfather). Charles Carter was a grandson of John Carter III (1689-1742), born in
Lancaster County. The first Carter in this family of Carters was apparently John Carter (1613-1669), who
immigrated from England to the Virginia Colony, dying in Lancaster County.
As is well known, Carter was a prominent Northern Neck family name. John Carter III’s father, Robert Carter
(1663-1732), was a major landowner in the Northern Neck, and elsewhere in the Virginia Colony, and
descendent Carters were numerous, with many of them large landowners growing tobacco, and later towards
the end of the 1700s, grain and corn. The 1600s and 1700s Carters had many children, so that today there
are probably hundreds of thousands of descendants from the 1600s and 1700s Carters.
Robert Carter III (1728-1804), the grandson of Robert Carter (1663-1732), stood out in the late 1700s in the
Northern Neck for his involvement with religion and his attitudes toward slavery. As mentioned above in the
Culture Section, subsection Religion, beginning in the middle of the 1700s, associated with the “Great
Awakening”, “separatists” groups, such as Baptists, Methodists, and others, challenged the Church of England’
s position as “the church” and the authority on religion. Robert Carter III participated in this separatist
movement, eventually becoming a prominent Baptist.
Carter believed slavery to be immoral, which led him to pursue a process of freeing his many slaves, against
much opposition from other Northern Neck residents who benefited from slavery and wanted it to continue.
Eventually hundreds of Carter’s slaves were freed.
Robert Carter III was also an innovative, successful businessman, owning many income-producing mills, salt
mines, and schooners. He had business and social ties outside of the Northern Neck, e.g., in Baltimore. He
seemed to be a man before his times. Carter lived mostly at Nomini Hall in Westmoreland County.
London Carter (1710-1778), a son of Robert Carter (1663-1732), lived in the Northern Neck’s Richmond
County. He paid for the 1748 construction of a courthouse in Warsaw in Richmond County, that is still being
used today by the county, one of the few buildings standing in the Northern Neck built in the 1700s. See the
Property Section above for more on 1600s and 1700s Northern Neck buildings, including surviving courthouses.
John Carter’s (1613-1669) fourth wife was Sarah Ludlow (1635-1668). Sarah, the mother of Robert Carter
(1663-1732), was a member of an English family with connections to the English royals. An ancestor was an
aid to a king in the late 1400s and was a member of Parliament. Sarah immigrated to the Virginia Colony with
siblings and settled along the Rappahannock River, where she likely met John Carter. Because of her family’s
“royal connections”, the immigration to the Virginia Colony could have been in response to the English Civil
Wars and the overthrow of the royals in the 1650s. An uncle, Roger Ludlow (1590-1664), help establish the
Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay colonies.
Robert Carter’s (1663-1732) first wife, Judith Armistead (1665-1698), was the mother of John Carter III (1689-
1742). Judith was from a well-to-do planter family living in Gloucester County, across the Rappahannock River
from the Northern Neck’s Lancaster County, where Robert lived. In 1699-1700, Robert co-owned a 170-ton
ship with a William Armistead. William was likely Judith’s brother. Judith’s father, John Armistead (1630-1695),
represented Gloucester County in the House of Burgesses in the 1680s.
Many Carters served in county- and colony-level (including governor, House of Burgesses, and Virginia
Council) government positions as well as the militia. Many of them were sent to England for schooling.
Members of these Carter families were among the top land and slave owners in the Virginia Colony. John
Carter (1613-1669) brought many indentured servants to the Northern Neck. There can be no doubt that
these Carters would be in the Class Structure Level One, Large Land Owners (see the Culture Section,
subsection Class Structure above for my Class Structure scheme).
Champe. My great grandfather’s (Charles A. Jenkins - 1850-1927) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is
through his mother (Rosalie O. Carter Jenkins – 1818-1853). Rosalie was a descendant of Charles Carter
(1765-1827) (her grandfather), whose grandfather was John Champe, Jr. (1698-1763). John Champe Jr. was
born and died in King George County. King George County was established from Richmond County in 1720,
being the last county formed from the area considered as the Northern Neck. Charles Carter’s (1765-1827)
mother was Sarah Sallie Champe (1740-1814), a daughter of John Champe, Jr.
John Champe, Jr. (1698-1763), the son of John Champe, Sr. (born in the 1660s in Westmoreland County), was
a wealthy tobacco-growing landowner in King George County, owning dozens of slaves. John at various times
served as King George County’s sheriff, as a Dumfries township trustee, and in the militia as a LtCol. John was
an acquaintance of George Washington, exchanging correspondence with him on occasions and hosting him
as a guest at John’s Lamb’s Creek Plantation.
John Champe, Sr. (1665-?) likely knew Lawrence Washington and other residents living around Pope’s Creek
in Westmoreland County in the late 1600s, where he lived then. By the 1730s, John Champe, Sr. had left
Westmoreland County to live with his son, John Champe, Jr. at Lamb’s Creek Plantation in King George County.
The Lamb’s Creek Plantation site is about three miles south of the Potomac River, three miles north of the
Rappahannock River, and ten miles east of Fredericksburg. Near the plantation is the Lamb’s Creek Church,
built in the 1770s (the church is still standing – see the above section Properties, subsection Churches for
more on the 1700s Northern Neck church buildings still standing). John Champe, Jr. also served as a church
warden at Lamb’s Creek Church.,
John Champe, Jr. married Jane Thornton (1707-1767), from King George County. Their daughter, Sarah Sallie
Champe (1740-1814) married Edward Hill Carter (1726-1792) (son of John Carter III – see Carter above for
more on John Carter III). Edward Hill and Sarah Sallie Champe Carter lived in Albemarle County, Virginia on a
plantation called Blenheim. A Francis Thornton signed the 1766 Leedstown Resolutions (see the section
Security above for more on the Leedstown Resolutions). Francis Thornton was possibly Jane’s brother (Jane’
s father was a Francis Thornton, 1682-1737).
Based on the above, I would place the John Champe Jr. family in the Class Structure Level One, Large Land
Owners (see the Culture Section, subsection Class Structure above for my Class Structure scheme).
Claughton. My great grandmother’s (Amelia B Crawley, 1859-1937) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is
through her grandfather (Thomas Garner Crawley, 1787-1841). Thomas was born in Northumberland County,
Northern Neck and died in Halifax County, Virginia. Thomas’s mother was Elizabeth M Claughton (1766-1808),
born in Northumberland County and died in Halifax County. The Claughton family started living in
Northumberland in the 1640s. James Claughton (1629-1698) and his family was one of several families that
immigrated from Maryland in the 1640s due to the families dissatisfaction with Maryland events (see the section
Security above for more on Maryland tensions, leading to several families immigrating to the Northern Neck).
Sometime after 1787, Elizabeth M Claughton (1766-1808) and her husband, Thomas Hull Cralle (1766-1815),
migrated from Northumberland County to Halifax County in southwest Virginia, along the North Carolina state
line. The migration was likely after 1787 because Elizabeth and Thomas’ son, Thomas Garner Crawley (1787-
1841), was born in Northumberland County in 1787. Along with the migration, the last name spelling, Cralle – a
French name – was Americanized to the spelling Crawley. Thomas Hull Cralle (1766-1815) was the
descendent of French Huguenots who migrated to the Northern Neck in the 1600s.
John Foushee (1697-1773), another French Huguenot descendent living in the Northern Neck, also migrated to
Halifax County, where he died in 1773. John’s mother, Mary Sarah Cralle (1670-1724), indicates that John was
connected to the Cralles. John was also connected to the Claughtons – his great granddaughter, Elizabeth
Claughton is the Elizabeth in the above paragraph, who migrates with Thomas Hull Cralle to Halifax County
sometime after 1787. Likely Elizabeth knew that her great grandfather, John Foushee, migrated to Halifax
County, and this might have play a part in Thomas Hull and Elizabeth’s migration there also.
The James Claughton (1629-1698), referred to in the first paragraph above under Claughton, was involved in
developing a church parish in the Coan River area of Northumberland County. He was referred to as a small
farmer in surviving records. At one time, James had an Indian working for him, who he paid in tobacco.
Records have referred to a Claughton Creek, perhaps a creek associated with the Coan River (no present-day
Claughton Creek could be found).
John Claughton (1695-1726), James’ son, served as a justice of the peace in 1714. John had a son (1696-
1773) and a grandson (1730-1815), both named Richard and both living in Northumberland County. The 1696-
1773 Richard Claughton was married to Mary Lampkin (1698-1780) and owned a mill with a James Lampkin,
likely Mary’s brother or father.
In the 1780s, a Pemberton Claughton was put on a committee that oversaw trade restrictions with England.
Pemberton was a farmer in 1782 owning about 350 acres. A 1787-built house, still standing in the Coan River
area, of modest size, was constructed by a William Claughton.
Based on the above, I would place the 1600s-1700s Claughton family in the Class Level Three,
ordinary planters, lower-level land owners, and lower-level service providers.
Cralle. My great grandmother’s (Amelia B Crawley; 1859-1937) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is through
her grandfather (Thomas Garner Crawley, 1787-1841). Thomas was born in Northumberland County, Northern
Neck and died in Halifax County, Virginia. Although Thomas was born in Northumberland County, he moved to
Halifax County, Virginia (where he died). His parents, Thomas Hull (1766-1815) and Elizabeth Claughton
Cralle (1766-1808), migrated from the Northern Neck to Halifax County sometime after 1787 (Thomas Garner’s
birthdate in Northumberland County). Thomas Garner Crawley had Cralle ancestors living in the Northern Neck
going back to the 1630s: Thomas Hull Cralle (1766-1815); John Cralle (1724-1778); Thomas Cralle (1695-
1726); John Cralle (1660-1728); and Thomas Cralle (1637-1726). The Cralles (a French name) were the
descendants of French Huguenots who migrated to the Northern Neck in the 1600s. Crawley is an
Americanized version of Cralle.
During the 1600s and 1700s, Cralles were prominent members of the Northumberland County community.
Positions that Cralles held included: sheriff; justice of the peace; overseer (surveyor) of roads; on a committee
overseeing trade restrictions with England; and attendee at 1776 Virginia conventions dealing with difficulties
with England. Cralles served in the county militia. Cralles were involved in founding a Baptist Church – the
Gibeon Baptist Church – which still exists, about three miles west of Callao in Northumberland County.
The present-day Gibeon Church is located in an area with several other churches, remote from populations
centers. I do not think it would make sense to locate today these many churches where they are located at.
This suggests that when these churches were founded, many of them in the 1700s, the population densities in
the churches’ area were much higher than they are today. This makes sense considering that they were likely
many smaller farms, all with large families, and with indentured servants and apprentices. Even though the
land area is the same, there were a lot more people on that land then, justifying the churches then, but not
now. In a sense, these churches represent an archaeological signal – the present of a much greater
population at some time in the past.
Thomas Cralle’s (1695-1726) parents were John Cralle (1660-1728) and Anne Matthew (1678-1728). Anne’s
father was a Thomas Matthew who was involved in a 1675 dispute with Indians in Northumberland County,
which played a part in escalations preceding Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 (see the security Section above for
more on Bacon’s Rebellion). Sometime after the part he played related to escalations preceding Bacon’s
Rebellion, Thomas returned to England, where he died in the early 1700s, but not before writing an article on
his recollections of the Bacon Rebellion period. Apparently, this article has been useful to historians studying
Thomas Cralle (1695-1726) was married to Hannah Kenner (1695-1784). Hannah ancestors included well-
known 1600s Northern Neck family names: Kenner; Fox; Rodham; and Ball. Descendants with these names
appear frequently in the 1700s with respect to Northern Neck affairs.
Initial Kenner immigrants from England settled in the Lower Norfolk County before relocating to the Northern
Neck. By the end of the 1600s, early 1700s, a Rodham Kenner (1671-1706) was considered one of the
wealthiest planters in Northumberland County, with several indentured servants, apprentices, and slaves.
Rodham Kenner was elected to serve in the House of Burgesses in the late 1690s. He was an officer in the
militia. During the 1700s, Kenners continued to participate in community affairs including: as sheriff; as a
justice of the peace; a signer of the Leedstown Resolutions (see the above security Section for more on the
Leedstown Resolutions); and as an attendee at the 1774 Virginia “August Convention”, held to consider trading
difficulties with England. The August Convention was the first of five Virginia Conventions held in the 1774-
1776 time period to consider Virginia’s response to events happening in the colonies related to independence
Hannah Kenner was the daughter of Rodham Kenner (1671-1706) and Hannah Fox (1671-1717). Hannah Fox
was the daughter of David Fox (1647-1699), a prominent member of the Lancaster County community. He was
a trustee, along with Robert Carter (1663-1732), in a Virginia Colony government effort to develop a planned
township, Queenstown, on the Rappahannock River (an effort that did not succeed). Fox was also a member
of the House of Burgesses in the 1680s.
And Hannah Kenner’s grandfather was Matthew Rodham, an early Northern Neck settler from Accomack
County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Rodham name will be well-known in the 1700s in Northumberland
County. The final of Hannah Kenner four well-known 1600s ancestor names – Ball (the other three being
Kenner, Fox, and Rodham) was written about above as the first name in this Section.
Thomas and Hannah Kenner Cralle’s son, John Cralle (1724-1778) was married to Spelman Garner. The
Garner family ancestors are written about next.
John Cralle (1724-1778) is believed to have been a member of a Northumberland committee overseeing trade
with England. Many Virginia counties set up such committees in 1774.
John Cralle (1724-1778) was Northumberland County’s delegate to the 1776 Fifth Virginia Convention. The
1776 Fifth Virginia Convention was the last of five conventions held in the 1774 to 1776 time period to consider
Virginia’s response to various events happening in the colonies related to the independent movement from
England. The fifth convention declared Virginia as an independent state and produced Virginia’s first
constitution and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Each Virginia county sent one delegate to the fifth.
Based on the above, I would place the 1600s-1700s Cralle family in the Class Level Two,
yeoman planters, lower-level land owners, and higher-level service providers.
Garner. My great grandmother’s (Amelia B Crawley; 1859-1937) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is through
her grandfather Thomas Garner Crawley (1787-1841), whose grandfather was Parish Garner II (1705-1761),
born in Westmoreland County and died in Northumberland County. Parish Garner II’s ancestors had lived in
the Northern Neck since the 1640s. Parish Garner II’s ancestors were: Parish Garner Sr. (1674-1718); John
Garner (1634-1702); and Richard Garner (1594-1643).
John Garner’s (1634-1702) reportedly came to the Northern Neck as an indentured servant. In 1660, he
married Susanna Keene (?-1716). They had Parish Garner Sr. (1674-1718), who married Elizabeth Parker
(1676-1718). Parish and Elizabeth had Parish Garner II (1705-1761), who married Frances Spelman (1717-
1799) in 1730. A Garner’s Creek is located near Route 680 (Cherry Point Rd.) in Northumberland County.
No community (government) participation by this Garner family could be found. Also no indication of large land
ownership or service occupations could be found. On this basis, I would place this Garner family in the Class
Structure Level Three, ordinary planters, lower-level land owners, and lower-level service providers.
Perhaps John Cralle (1724-1778) marriage to Spelman Garner (1740-1771) reflects this Level three class
position of the Garners. During the 1600s and 1700s, marriages were predominantly between individuals of
the same class. If the Garner family were in the class structure three (ordinary planters, lower-level land
owners, and lower-level service providers) (as I am suggesting they were), this would indicate lower levels of
land ownership and lower income levels as a farmer. That John Cralle marries Spelman Garner might suggest
that John was more similar to the Garner family in land ownership (assuming my assumption about the Garner
family class level is correct) and therefore both John and Spelman were more similar than different in class, and
class difference would not be a reason not to marry. If this were the case, than an explanation exists for why
Thomas Hull Cralle (1766-1815), John and Spelman’s son, might decide to migrate to Halifax County –
because he had insufficient land in the Northern Neck to obtain the income he desired and relocating to Halifax
County would offer opportunities for more land and more income. Land was probably more available at
cheaper prices in Halifax County than in the Northern Neck in the late 1700s, early 1800s.
Washington. My great grandfather’s (Charles A. Jenkins; 1850-1927) ancestor link to the Northern Neck is
through his mother (Rosalie O. Carter Jenkins – 1818-1853), who was a descendant of Elizabeth (Betty) Lewis
(1765-1830), Rosalie’s grandmother. Elizabeth (Betty) Lewis’s grandfather was Augustine Washington (1694-
1743), born in Westmoreland County and died in Stafford County. Augustine’s ancestors who were born
and/or died in the Northern Neck included: John Washington (1631-1677); Lawrence Washington (1659-
1698); Anne Pope (1639-1668); and Nathaniel Pope (1603-1660).
John Washington arrived in the Northern Neck as a crew member on a ship coming from England. Nathaniel
Pope, who was a Westmoreland County resident, took a liking to John, helping him, which lead to John
remaining. In this process, John met Anne, Nathaniel Pope’s daughter, and married her. John and Anne had
Lawrence Washington in 1659.
Nathaniel Pope was one of the first Northern Neck settlers in the 1640s. He was an early county
commissioner. Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County is named after him.
One of the first land grants given by the new Northern Neck owners was to John Washington, who obtained
5,000 acres in Westmoreland County. (The new Northern Neck owners were those English lords who helped
King Charles II regain the English throne and, in return, were given the Northern Neck land.) Some of the
present-day Mount Vernon property is on these 5,000 acres.
John Washington’s first house on this land was a small 20 foot by 40 foot, on posts driven into the ground;
typical of most houses built at the time as temporary shelter (10 to 20 years). (See the section Property,
subsection Houses, above, for more on 1600s and 1700s houses.)
John, who was an officer in the militia, lead an attack that slaughtered several Indians in Maryland; Indians that
may not have been the intended guilty party. This attack was one of a few events that escalated into Bacon’s
Rebellion (see the section Security, above, for more on Bacon’s Rebellion). John also, for a time, was the
county’s Naval Officer, with responsibility for Potomac River naval issues. He also served as vestryman and a
At the time of his death, John Washington is believed to have owed more than 10,000 acres. He sponsored
several indentured servants to the Northern Neck.
Lawrence Washington (1659-1698), John’s son, and inheritor of John’s wealth, married Mildred Warner in
1686. Mildred Warner was a member of a well-to-do Warner family in Gloucester County, on the Middle Neck,
between the Rappahannock and York Rivers. Lawrence and Mildred have Augustine Washington in
Westmoreland County in 1694.
Augustine Washington (1694-1743) marries Marry Ball in1731. See Balls, at the beginning of this section, for
more on the Ball family.
Based on the above, I would place the Washington family in the Class Structure Level One, Large Land
Owners (see the section Culture, subsection Class Structure, above, for my Class Structure scheme).
|Family History - Living in Virginia’s Northern Neck During the 1600s and 1700s –
Balls, Carters, Champes, Claughtons, Cralles, Garners, and Washingtons