Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Family's Colonial Era, Part XIV

by Glenn N. Holliman

The Observations of Historian John Bennett Boddie

In 1938, Virginian historian John Bennett Boddie published Seventeenth Century, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. My 1994 reprint by the Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore, Maryland is brimming with abstracts of county records and Boddie's own history of this part of Virginia in the 1600s. Yes, there are many Holymans, including Christopher Holyman, Sr. and Jr., recorded in this volume, and much to study and upon which to reflect. In the next few postings, I shall pull out and examine some findings that reflect on our family and our country.

Isle of Wight Country had its first English settlers in 1619, one Captain Christopher Lawne responsible for a few pioneers. He represented his fledgling county in the historic first House of Burgess's meeting in 1619. Lawne's settlement floundered, but one Robert Bennett transported 120 settlers to Isle of Wight by 1621.

As I have recorded in earlier posts, the Powhatan Indian Confederacy launched an uprising on Good Friday, March 1622. After the day of murder, only 50 or so English remained in Isle of Wight Country, and 950 so English in the entire colony. English Virginia barely survived, but in recovering the settlers launched all out war on the Native Americans. From 1622 to 1632, annual forays into Indian territory resulted in destruction of many villages and food supplies.

Colonial Virginia was safer for current and future English settlers, and the amount of available land taken by a decade of conquest considerably enlarged frontier borders. The Warascoyak's tribe of Isle of Wight Country was destroyed in the extensive conflict.

In recording the above, Broddie on pages 84 to 86 notes three important precedents established by the Virginia House of Burgess in that ten year war. I thought them so important to understanding the future of our country, that I record them here.

1624 - Virginia General Assembly required 'that those shall be hurt on service shall be cured at public charge and the lame to be maintained by the county according to his person and quality'.
The care of veterans wounded in combat is enshrined into legislation very early in our history!

1629 - The Assembly gave Plantation commanders the authority and power 'to levy men to fall upon the Indians'. This is the first conscription or 'draft' law in colonial America, a precedent that all future draftees (such as myself in 1968) can appreciate!

1632 - Assembly required that no man shall attend church without carrying firearms or work ground with out arms and a sentinel. In a foreshadowing of the 2nd Amendment to the 1789 U.S. Constitution, later Assembly laws required that white males own a musket, shot and powder. This requirement provided an instant militia and saved money by not requiring a central armory for each county.

More on Colonial Virginia and our family in the next posting....

1 comment:

  1. I think some Flys are mentioned in Boddie. And I think, though am not quite sure, that veterans in England had begun to be granted care and even lands in Ireland at that time, for what it's worth. Conscription, yea...I think my ancestors tended to avoid that by moving to the frontier--though they weren't in Virginia in 1619. That last one sounds odd--no man could attend church unless armed?? But on gun rights, have you read the book "1676"?