Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Family's Colonial Era - Part X

A Civil War in England and
War with the Dutch in the Chesapeake Bay
by Glenn N. Holliman

Virginia was not immune from the disturbances in England. After the English Civil War, and Charles I losing his crown and head, Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth ruled from 1649 to 1660. Robert Berkeley, a long serving royal appointee, was dismissed as governor of Virginia in 1652 when a Commonwealth ship sailed up the James River and demanded Berkeley’s surrender of the colony and his post.

Below Oliver Cromwell, the uncrowned king of England during the Commonwealth Era.

With the restoration of Charles II to the British throne in 1660, Berkeley left his plantation and exile at Green Spring (near present day Williamsburg) and returned to lead from Jamestown, still the capitol.

Violence never was far away from the Hollimans and their farms in what is now Smithfield, Virginia on the Cypress River (a short river which emptied into the Pagan and then into the James) and later the Blackwater Swamp, still in Isle of Wight County. In 1667, a Dutch fleet sailed up the James and burned twenty colonial ships carrying tobacco. Six years later, the persistent Dutch in a continuing trade war with Britain, returned and burned or captured another ten ships.

Did the Holliman’s suffer financial losses as a result of this international war? Did they hear the guns and see the smoke? Undoubtedly the Virginia militia was turned out. Was this long-forgotten naval engagement (and war) the first occasion for Holliman’s to muster in defense of their new country?

Economically the Virginia colony was suffering from a surplus of tobacco, falling commodity prices, restrictive trade laws and increasing taxes. In addition to Dutch and Mercantile wars, the frontier (northern Isle of Wight County was a border) still experienced friction and violence between settlers and Native Americans. If this sounds like 21st Century America, we are reminded that physical and economic security are paramount issues in any community or century.

Next posting, other Hollimans arrive in the Virginia colony....

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