Some recent revisions… 1674 or so was the period when the “headright” system began to end. My idea here is to focus on those early patents… it is still a work in progress. (I find numerous patents still citing headrights until at least 1699… the 1674 date is simply a focus point)
A few examples of the difficulty of creating this map…
I made this map several years ago and recently re-read it again.. anew, so to speak. None of it will make much sense unless you are researching people from the 17th and 18th century and actually dig into the dirt. . The “Indian Creek” I discuss does not exist in any modern accounts… it is a ghost record and can only be seen in a comprehensive map of the actual patents from “back in the day”.
Click image to open in another window to zoom in…(use Ctrl + or- to zoom more if you wish…)
Below is a USGS map surveyed in 1918… this shows the Indian Creek and Western Branch rivers before they were expanded to reservoirs in (I think) 1962. Of note is “Exchange Creek” which is now under water and previously known as “Indian Creek”. There was a mill pond and evidently it was navigable to that point. (Note the “wharf” by the pond). I hazard a guess that this area may have been a central point for a tobacco warehouse and shipping point with access to the Nansemond River. Also of interest is Reid’s Ferry at the point where the modern dam is located (this evidently was the principal road from say Chuckatuck to Suffolk. The area above Reid’s Ferry was the historical stomping grounds of the Nansemond Indians and Dumpling Island to the east (mentioned in early patents). I’m collecting notes and may take a stab at the early patents of Percival Champion and others. (His land can be pinpointed because he left a bequest to the “Glebe Church” in 1642 or so… the 2nd or 3rd incarnation of that church and the glebe land still exist across the Nansemond River). Below is the earliest record I have found for the area known as Indian Creek in IOW. (map is dated about 1670 – see under word “Nantemond”)
Regarding Nansemond- I recently found this map which refers to some very early patents in that area. It was finished in 1948. I note that the author deals with many of the problems I also face with my maps. Read his notes and see what I mean. He was cognizant that creeks may dry up, change course, shorelines may erode, etc. He addresses “foggy” patents by leaving them out. I am not demeaning his work by any means but simply, and sympathetically, sharing his frustration… I am sure that he would have been beside himself with the internet assets available to us new guys today.
Sketch Book of Suffolk County written in 1886…
Below are patents I have attempted to locate… there is a lot of guesswork, so don’t be too upset if I misplace your ancestor. The written patents can be found at the Library of Virginia website.
This file is huge… so be patient for it to load… (click once and then once more for the behemoth).
Of interest to me lately is the PITT line of IOW… below are some misc notes:
Where the hell was New Town Haven River?
According to Boddie: “Pagan River was probably so called because the Indian village, Mokete, was located on the south side of the river. The river was originally called Warrascoyack and afterwards New Town Haven and then later on received its present name.
There are 2 histories written for Isle of Wight that I consult.
A History of Isle of Wight County: Written about 1907 by Col. E. M. Morrison for the Jamestown Tercentenary Exposition.
County Sketch and Historical Records: From the William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine (April 1899)
The 1907 Morrison account is my favorite to figure out “places” such as creeks.
“In the year 1634 the colony was divided into eight shires or counties, one of which was named Worrosquoyacke, afterwards Isle of Wight. The government of these shires or counties was modeled upon that in England. Lieutenant Colonels were appointed and commanded the troops in the wars with the Indians. Sheriffs, sergeants and bailiffs were elected; and, until 1691, every freeman was entitled to a vote, and indentured servants, at the expiration of their term of service, were allowed to do the same. In 1628-29 commissioners were appointed and required to hold monthly meetings in the different shires or counties; hence, the origin of the county courts.
The original boundaries of the county of Worrosquoyacke, or Isle of Wight, were: Northerly, by Lawnes Creek; Easterly, by James River as far as the plantation of Richard Hayes, formerly John Howard’s; the southern boundary by certain creeks to the head of Colonel Pitt’s Creek (this proved somewhat uncertain); and westerly into the woods indefinitely. In 1656, upon the petition of the inhabitants of Ragged Island and Terascoe Neck, then in Nansemond county, they were put into Isle of Wight.
A long dispute arose between the counties of Isle of Wight and Nansemond, continuing until 1674, when, by an Act of the General Assembly (then called the House of Burgesses), the boundaries were established as they now are, viz.:
“That a southwest by south line be designed, runned and plainly marked from the river side of the plantation of Hayes, extending to the creek at or near the plantation called Nevill Oyster Bank; thence a line or lines up Col. Pitt’s creek to the head of his lands; thence in a southwest half a point westerly line ”
In the case of the PITTs, there was more going on than is apparent merely by the original patents… that is, horse trading…
JAMES ROCHE TO HENRY PITT, assignment of land lying in Chuckatuck, sold to Roche by Thomas Brice 14 Jane 1643, this 10 day June, 1647. Teste, George Fawdon, Anthony Jones, Thomas Wombrell, clerk of court.
JAMES WATSON, tanner, and Mary his wife, they moving sell to Henry Pitt 200acres part of John Sparkes pat. of 750 acres and sold by said Sparks to Peter Hull and by Hull to my brother Robert Watson, adjoins the land of Anthony Jones where my brother Watson formerly lived and now the said Henry Pitt. 10 March 1655. Teste, Thomas Woodward.
RICHARD (R. Y.) YOUNG sells to Robert Pitt, merchant his patent of 350 acres upon New Town Haven Creek Between the land of Richard Preston and Thomas Jordan and also hath sold 100 acres patented 24 Aug. 1648 now in tenure of William Denson and John Oldis. For 1500 lbs. tbco. 5 Feb. 1649. Teste, Robert Gaylord, Robert Pitt, Jr.
A study of some Pitts…
First a head scratcher I recently found. My note in the blue area below states that John Pitt in 1702 gave to his son Henry Pitt “all that 1200 acres of land that his father Col Robert Pitt lived on” (paraphrased).
But it seems that Hugh Campbell in 1698/9 purchased the 1200 acres. I’ve analyzed the metes and bounds and there is no doubt it was the same land. I am dumbfounded. I mean, what the hell?
I hazard a guess that if you follow the above directions… whip out a metal detector and happen to find a spoon or some such … well, you get my drift.
John Seaward and son were interesting…they are all over the map, so to speak; just above the town of Smithfield when it was still New Town “haven” and somehow also near the Pitt and Bridger properties… I had some fun with this post: