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The Colonial Virginia Register
Most genealogists, whether they are a family historian, a beginning amateur or a long-time professional for hire, will amass a collection of books and other materials that relate to the areas they research. I am no exception to that observation. Some of the materials I have collected were costly, some were given to me, and some were by being in the right place at the right time. One such place was the reducing of the stacks of a genealogy library. This particular library had received many donations of private libraries and had three or more of the same books. Fortunately for me, they sold the oldest copies for a fraction of the cost they were really worth. I searched through and picked the best, but oldest copies of books I knew I could use, not only for the information, but also for the perceived value of the book itself. Unfortunately for me, my copy comes complete with the library stamp, but also with an original faceplate of the DAR member who bought the book and donated it to the library, but it was also was signed by B. L. Price of Alexandria in 1912. My copy of this book is over one hundred years old!
One such book was the 1902 publication of The Colonial Virginia Register, A List of Governors, Councillors and Other Higher Officials, and also of Members of the House of Burgesses, and the Revolutionary Conventions of the Colony of Virginia... compiled by William G. and Mary Newton Stanard; Published in Albany, N.Y. by Joel Munsell’s Sons, Publishers.
Note: The spelling you will find in this article is correct and as in the book. The original book is currently out of print in hardback, but can be purchased in paperback from Amazon.com.
The preface states that “The compilers of this Register trust that it may prove useful to students of Virginia History and Genealogy.” It goes into detail of the various offices of the Colonial Government starting in 1607, which is a history lesson by itself... and the amount of genealogical data is tremendous.
Information on the Governors of Virginia: 1607 - 1775
1607, April – Captain Edward Maria Wingfield, President of the Council.
1607, Sept. 10 – Captain John Ratcliffe, President of the Council.
1608, Sep 7 – Captain John Smith, President of the Council.
(1609, May 23 – Thomas West, Lord de la War, or Delaware, appointed “Governor and Captain General;” but did not reach Virginia until June 10, 1610.) Born in England, 1577; died at sea June 7, 1618.
1609 – Captain George Percy, President of the Council. Born in England,September 4, 1586; died in England, March, 1632.
One early entry I was intrigued by was: 1652, April 30 – Richard Bennett elected Governor by the General Assembly; but probably in accordance with a private intimation of the wishes of the Parliamentary authorities. Bennett, who was one of the commissioners sent by Parliament to subdue Virginia, brought with him sealed instruction, not to be opened until Virginia surrendered. Born in England; died in Virginia, 1675.
Knowing there is tons of information available; I still was thrilled to see the entry about Alexander Spotswood, who is connected to the Second Germanna Colony inVirginia. 1710, June 23 – Col. Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant Governor. Born 1676 at Tangier, Africa(where his father was surgeon to the English garrison); died June 7, 1740 at Annapolis, Md., when about to embark for the campaign against Carthagena.
About twenty-five pages are devoted to “The Council.” Names, dates of appointment, plus notes about births and deaths are given from 1607 to 1775. Several council members were “killed by Indians,” others died by accidental means. Several deaths occurred places other than America. A few entries are listed following:
Bartholomew Gosnold, appointed 1607; born in England. Died Aug 22, 1607, in Virginia was the first entry.
John Ratcliffe, appointed 1607, born in England, killed by Indians, October 1609. Ratcliffe was the first listed as killed by Indians.
George Kendall, appointed 1607, born in England. Shot for mutiny in Virginia, 1607.
Matthew Scrivenor, was appointed 1608, born in England, but drowned in James River, 1609.
George Reade, appointed 1657/8, of York and Gloucester counties, Va., born in England. Died1671, in Virginia. (This was the great-great-grandfather of President George Washington.)
Augustin Warner I., appointed 1660, of “Warner Hall,”Gloucester County, Va., Born 1610, in England. Died December 24, 1674, in Virginia. (This was George Reade’s son-in-law, who was also the great-grandfather of President George Washington.)
The House of Burgesses
The House of Burgesses was the first government in America. The first meeting took place July 30, 1619, in a church in Jamestown. John Pory, was elected to serve as the first Speaker of the House. The “House” met only once a year. The information in the book allows you to “see” the growth of Virginia as more and more residents move in and the area flourishes into what would become the resident of many a name we all recognize.
List of the speakers from 1619 to1775 is given in the book, as is the members of the assemblies and the regions they represented. Some of the villages listed in 1619 are: JamesCity, CharlesCity, The City of Henricus, Kicoughtan, Martin-Brandon, Smythe’s Hundred, Martin’s Hundred, Argall’s Gift, Flowerdieu Hundred, Captain Lawne’sPlantation, and Captain Ward’sPlantation.
By 1659/60, the list of villages and town has grown. You will also notice the spelling of names has also evolved, changed, or was discontinued. Assembled on March 13th from: Henrico, CharlesCity, JamesCity, Surry, Isle of Wight, Upper Norfolk, Lower Norfolk, Northampton, Warwick, ElizabethCity, York, New Kent, Rappahannock, Lancaster, Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Gloucester.
By the assembly of November 16, 1714, the areas have again grown and names changed to include: Accomac, Charles City, Elizabeth City, Essex, Gloucester, Henrico,James City, Isle of Wight, King and Queen, King William, Lancaster, Middlesex, Nansemond, Norfolk, New Kent, Northumberland, Northampton, Princess Anne, Prince George, Richmond, Surry, Stafford, Warwick, Westmoreland, and York.
150 years later, by the convention of March 1775, the assembly contain many more than before, and contained many house members that we all will recognize from our history lessons.
Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg served as president.
Areas represented included: Accomack, Albemarle (Thomas Jefferson), Amelia, Amerst, Augusta, West Augusta, Bedford, Botetourt, Brunswick, Buckingham, Berkeley, Caroline, Charles City, Charlotte, Chesterfield, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Dunmore, Elizabeth City, Essex, Fairfax (George Washington), Fauquier (Thomas Marshall), Frederick, Fincastle, Gloucester, Goochland, Halifax, Hampshire, Hanover (Patrick Henry, Jr.), Henrico, James City, Isle of Wight, King George, King and Queen, King William, Lancaster, Loudoun, Louisa, Lunenburg, Middlesex, Mecklenburg, Nansemond, New Kent, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, Orange, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Price George, Princess Anne, Prince William, Richmond, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Surry, Sussex, Warwick, Westmoreland, York, Jamestown, and Norfolk Borough.
Even if your ancestor is not in this book, this is a book well worth reading. Check out the Virginia section of your nearest library for a trip down history lane to get a quick look at the men that built America.